The 4th February is 30 days till the start of Crufts 2014. So I'm getting excited and want to share with you all the reasons to go to the greatest dog show in the world.
Crufts 2014 is from 6th-9th March 2014 at the NEC Birmingham with good access from the train and parking for 16,000 cars. So is Crufts expensive for all the things that I'm going to tell you about. I think it's very good value for money. Adult tickets in advance Thursday & Friday £16.50, Saturday & Sunday £17.20, best in show tickets on the Sunday are £17.50-£22.50 on top of the day ticket. Better still make it a family trip out under 12's go free!
Hopefully I have started to wet your appetite to go but here are 10 good reasons.
1. See thousands of dogs
Last year 2013 over 20,000 dogs were judged over the 4 days. Each day has a different group being judged. This year
Thursday 6th March : Working & Pastoral
Friday 7th March : Terrier & Hound
Saturday 8th March : Toy & Utility
Sunday 9th March : Gundog
When you walk round the show you can see all the pre judge grooming taking place, the highs and lows of the ring and maybe even see a future champion on display either for the group of best in show.
2. Trade Stands - aka treats and nommies
Crufts spreads itself over 5 halls and trade stands are in all of them so as you can imagine there is everything a hound can want - insurance, medication, toys, clothes, leads, treats, food and for the Hoomans stands are selling dog walking clothes & shoes.
In amongst the trade stands are many charities raising awareness of the work they do and selling their merchandise.
3. Discover dogs
If you love dogs but can't decide which one you prefer here is the chance to see over 200 breeds in a dedicated area in hall 3. Here you can ask questions about grooming, leads, the breed itself; useful if you are considering getting a dog or want advise. If you come down on Thursday 6th to the greyhound stand you can meet Star and I between 8.30-12.30.
Free to watch are demonstrations of young handlers, good citizen scheme and dogs doing their test on the day, Police dog demonstrations, children safety around dogs, scruffs and many more.
Last year over 40,000 visitors went to Crufts but Hoodad managed to find a couple. Jodie Kidd the model and dog lover was at the Samsung electronics stand with Doobby her Jack Russell and posed for photos with a larger breed a Great Dane. Hoodad also had his photo with Peter Purves who has co presented many a Crufts show as well as being a ex Blue Peter presenter (Hoodad showing his age).
As well as hooman celebrities there was also some famous dogs there. The Arden Grange stand had a demonstration of how the dogs are trained to do tricks for their roles on TV. Some of the dogs there were Skye's from Midsummer Murder and Wilson from Channel 4's Friday night dinner. Wilson is related to Wellard the dog that used to be on EastEnders but is very photogenic with hoomom.
6. Crufts on YouTube
When you are visiting the show you can link your phone, tablet or laptop to the free wifi and view the live YouTube channel or watch coverage on any day, judging and many other good clips.
7. The main arena
As well as the 5 halls there is more to see in the main arena which is free to enter with any day ticket to the show. The exception is for the best in show programme which is from 3pm onwards on the Sunday. Here you can see the flyball competition, agility competition for both professionals and rescue dogs with all the various breeds ranging from small up to large dogs.
8. Heelwork to music
Heelwork to music is dancing with your dogs and doing some great dog and handler tricks. The queen of Heelwork to music is Mary Ray and she is always warmly received when she performs. There is also the competition to see who can win the cup.
9. Meet your friends
I have many friends on twitter who I have met on various walks, dog shows or on meet and greet road shows. Hopefully some of you can see me on the discover dogs stand. But on the Friday for the hound judging I am sure that I will see many of my friends watching the greyhounds being judged. Last year when Star was at Crufts she walked round and met a twitter friend Hetty (@Hetty_BG). Hetty was the 1st dog in the UK to be trained by Guide Dogs & support dogs to be a guide & seizure alert dog. Everyday she gives vital warning of her hoomoms seizures keeping her safe.
10. Best in Show
I can't finish without talking about the best in show. How does a dog get to be considered to be best in show. A dog or bitch must win its group and then be judged against the other class winners (dogs and bitches judged separately). Once a best dog or bitch of the breed has been chosen they are judged against each other to be crowned the best of breed. The best of breed then represents the breed in the best in group. The 7 group winning dogs are then judged to crown the overall best in show. 2013 was won by Jilly a Petit Bassett Griffon Vendeen from Oxfordshire in her last ever dog show.
Hopefully if you have never been to Crufts before my top ten items have made you want to go.