Sunday, 9 March 2014

Barking Blondes: The biggest dog show in the world

Joanne Good and Anna Webb
photo 1024x768 Barking Blondes: The biggest dog show in the worldWe are writing this from Crufts, the biggest dog show in the world.
It rained over night so the halls in Birmingham’s N.E.C permeate with damp dog aroma.
However, what may have caused poodle frizz and a frantic frenzy of blow drying on the benches, certainly hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of the queuing public who stream through the doors desperate to catch a glimpse of their favourite breed.
Its encouraging to see that a passing bassett hound, swaying pensively  across the piazza, can attract more looks of admiration than the obligatory reality star. Because these enthusiasts are hard core and not even good looking chic from Made In Chelsea can distract them.
So what sets this dog event apart from any other? Nothing really changes – we have been broadcasting live from here for years. It  follows the same format: breed conformation classes, agility, obedience, flyball, heel work to music. It is the ame judges, familiar competitors and a cascade of colourful rosettes.
And its that recipe that becomes addictive to many fans of our four legged friends. It is the Olympics for canines: The Chelsea Flower show for mutts.
But nestling underneath this fantastic doggy parade are the same old questions which raised their heads following the  BBC Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary…aired 6 years ago.
On Thursday the Kennel Club’s Caroline Kisko along with a member of  Peta (The People’s Ethical Treatment for Animals) came head to head to discuss this controversial issue.
Peta very much feel that breeding pedigree dogs is unethical when rescue centres are at busting point with not only cross breeds but also unwanted pedigrees. Along with this is the worry that not all unwanted pedigrees come from reputable breeders or maybe they are taken on with very little research into the breed.
Taking on a dog is a lifelong commitment (not a whim or a trend) so choosing the right dog for your lifestyle and home environment is crucial.
It was also pointed out that many pedigrees are bred by puppy farmers and kept in appalling conditions and often advertised on the internet.
Should this be a concern to The Kennel Club? Are they doing anything to curb such activity?
It seems sp.  Along with many other they are campaigning to halt this evil trading, but can only succeed with the support of local councils and Parliament.
This discussion encouraged many callers to our radio show (ironically broadcast on the BBC) both for and against event such as this at Birmingham’s NEC.
Its worth noting however that both this blog, along with three separate BBC radio shows, are a bi-product of our presence. They create discussion in a world that points the finger , as it should, to any alleged cruelty to animals.
We urge you to tell us your thoughts.  Should the 160 thousand visitors coming through these doors along with the 25 thousand hopeful dogs be celebrated for their doggy enthusiasm or criticised for unwitting exploitation of man’s best friend?
As far as the four of us are concerned we are, on this final day, shattered, talked out but eagerly anticipating  who will scoop the Best in Show.
Because, lets face it, that’s the headline on tomorrow’s news.
Barking Blondes by Jo Good & Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £12.99

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