A day in the life of a show dog: Crufts

Minnie at Crufts: 2019

Crufts is one of the most exciting events in the dog showing calendar year.   You spend months preparing, grooming and training, which is all so worth it when you qualify to compete at this prestigious event.

The seven breed groups are split across four days held at the NEC every year in March.

The day usually begins by rising at an unearthly hour to beat the M6 traffic, if you are lucky then there may be a chance to grab breakfast en route – although usually the nerves have kicked in and devouring a bacon butty is not all that appealing!

The car park seems like miles away and so there is no room for error in forgetting even a single grooming brush. You are thankful that you are only showing a Shetland Sheepdog which you can carry and not a St. Bernard…

Once in the safety of your hall you find your bench number. A sense of calm washes over you. The calm doesn’t last long as you make the final preparations to your dog before entering the ring.

Grooming can be so therapeutic if you have a willing dog. Once the coat is dry, you go about trimming, snipping, thinning and brushing. Minnie loves having her feet trimmed and nails done, so you have to be prepared to factor in an extra five minutes to brush the tops of her paws as she hands you them each in turn over and over again (even though this does absolutely nothing, she believes it is a vital part of her grooming regime!).

As you have done all your washing during the week before the big debut, you only have to worry about the finishing touches when you get to your bench on the day.  You make sure your dog’s ears are clean, feet are clean and trimmed, hair has been brushed up and that your show lead is ready to be put on.

Minnie on the table

My top tip is to always pack a lint roller. No matter how much you brush, dog hair is an accessory that us humans don’t pull off well!

You head over to the rings with your dog in tow and wait for the steward to call for your class.  This is it, the moment you have waited all year for.  The green carpet beckons and the flashes of cameras from spectators make you feel like you are at the Oscars and not a dog show.

The feeling that sweeps over you is surreal. You never know if you will qualify again next year, so it’s important to pause, check your pockets are full of treats and take in the moment before entering the ring.

Minnie on the floor

The ordeal lasts no more than 2 minutes as the judge goes over your dog on the table and asks you for a “triangle” and “up and down”.  After seeing 27 dogs or so, class and breed dependent, the judge is ready to pick their top five.  You ask your dog to present herself in a “stand, stay” as the judge makes their way round again for a final glance. You quickly run through a mental note in your head of your performance, was there any way you could have presented your dog better? How does she look from every angle? Did the judge like her? 

At this point you realise it no longer matters, because you won regardless. You took the best dog home!

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