With over 22,000 dogs at Crufts, the breeds are split into seven groups over four days:
- Working and Pastoral;
- Terrier and Hound;
- Toy and Utility;
To keep things fair, they rotate which day you're on. So I've known for a while that we would need to get to Birmingham at rush hour on a Friday. Not the best thing when you've got a stressful day ahead. Fortunately, and I can say it now, without fear of jinxing myself ... the traffic was pretty quiet and the journey straightforward. The breed rings stay the same every year, so we soon found the other Elkhounds and our benches. The girls are starting to get used to this now, so quickly relaxed to watch the crowds go by. Busy has perfected the art of the 'nobody loves me' face and, as usual, people were drawn in to take her photo and give her a cuddle.
We were second in the breed ring, after the Greyhounds. All the Greyhound classes had large numbers, so it took a very long time to get through them all. Some were starting to look a bit fed up...
With plenty of spare time, but not wanting to stray too far from my dogs, I took the opportunity to take some photos. All the owners seemed really pleased to have their dog's picture taken. Some let me get on with it, knowing I wanted the dog in the pose I saw it in. Others, seeing that their dog was fidgeting, leapt to their feet with treats, to keep the dog's attention in my direction.
Finally, just after lunch, it was the Elkhounds' turn. The dogs were up first and we all gathered round to cheer on our favourites. I joined the Bowerhinton team, obviously - particularly Bear, Disa's brother, and Ziggy, Busy's grandson. Even those dogs not registered as Bowerhintons, but descended from them, got our support. We're very loyal!
Next, the bitches. Busy was up first, in Veteran. She's 11 in April and still looking fantastic - hardly any different to the day I got her, around three years ago. She tends to be a bit lazy with her tail, but the fancy sausages I had seemed to do the trick, and her tail rarely stopped wagging. There were some great-looking oldies and against such competition she was awarded 'Very Highly Commended' (VHC).
There was then a short break for me before Disa was in back to back classes, with a 2nd place in Limit Bitch and then a VHC in Open Bitch. Finally, Busy again for the Good Citizen Dog Scheme class... where she got 3rd. So four certificates and two rosettes to add to the collection. The girls were up against some fantastic dogs, so bringing home anything was a great honour.
The Elkhound owners are all very friendly and helpful, and there is often wine and food passed around at events. But yesterday was extra-special as it was the 70th birthday of the co-breeder of my girls. So as soon as the judging had ended, we all gathered around for cups of wine, large chunks of cake and homemade sausage rolls.
After filling ourselves up and having a good gossip, the long day started catching up on us. We gradually headed off home, with promises to see each other at the Elkhound Club Show in April. Can't wait!