13 March 2013

Crufts round-up & interview with Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club

Well, Crufts is over for another year.  My feet have just about recovered from all the miles I walked through halls one to five of the NEC, Birmingham.  This year, I was only at Crufts for two days, so I needed to make sure that I packed as much in as I could.  It was also the first year that I had my 'official photographer' with me, in the guise of my husband.

So, what were the highlights this year?  There were several new products launched at Crufts and blog posts are going to follow on these.  I also managed to catch up with, and interview, Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club, and Gwen Bailey, author, behaviourist, founder and director of Puppy School (interview with Gwen to feature in a later blog post).

Visitor numbers increased at Crufts 2013
Visitor numbers were up this year at Crufts
It seems like the tide is turning for Crufts.  Visitor numbers were up this year - almost 145,900 dog-lovers came through the doors of the NEC; an increase of 3% from 2012 visitors.  Around 1.7 million viewers tuned in to Channel 4 and Channel 4 +1 on Sunday night to see Jilly, the Petit Basset Grifoon Vendeen, be awarded Best in Show and to witness Owen and Haatchi announced as winners of the Friends for Life Award.

When I caught up with Caroline Kisko, I asked her about what the Kennel Club has been up to in the last year, its plans for the coming year and what work it is undertaking to overcome the health difficulties in pedigree dogs.  You can listen to the interview below.

Fabulous flying staffie demonstrates agility
Fabulous Flying Staffie in the agility display
Apart from having the chance to sniff out some new products to try on the hounds, the highlights for me had to be the agility and displays of dogs having fun/being trained (after all, training should be fun) in the main arena and the various rings around the show.

I loved watching the Staffordshire Bull Terrier agility in the main arena.  Staffies get such a bad press (the majority of which is completely undeserved) and it was fantastic to see these dogs enjoying agility so much.

Ashleigh and Ruby compete at staffie agility
Ashleigh & Ruby compete at agility

We were even treated to an agility display from Ashleigh (without Pudsey), working with a lovely Staffie called Ruby.  We were told that Ruby was one of Pudsey's best friends and she certainly seemed as talented as Pudsey - especially when it came to agility.

Samsung Stand at Crufts 2013
Samsung stand in all its splendour
The Samsung stand was also a revelation.  I hadn't realised how long Samsung had been a sponsor of Crufts (20 years) or their links to supporting and working with dog charities.  This year, their stand provided a place to chill out and try out the latest gadgets from tablets, to cameras.  There was even the opportunity to have a free photo postcard taken as a memento of your visit.  Needless to say, I couldn't resist this.

Crufts Samsung donation to Blue Cross
L-R Rosemary Smart, CEO of the Kennel Club,
Kim Hamilton, CEO of the Blue Cross, &
Samsung representatives with donation

The Sunday culminated with Samsung presenting the CEO of the Blue Cross, Kim Hamilton, with the funds for the equivalent of 2,000 health checks for Blue Cross dogs.  The donation was a result of the great Samsung/Crufts Help-a-Dog-a-Thon facebook app, which provided facebook users with the chance to adopt and interact with a 'virtual dog'.  For each virtual dog interacted with, Samsung donated money to help reach the target of 2,000 health checks.

What next?

All in all, I enjoyed my two days at Crufts.  I managed to catch up with friends - both old and new - and have discovered some great products... anyone for a canine cuppa? (Woof and Brew blog post to come in next few days).  

I have to say though, I'm not a huge fan of the showing aspect and much prefer to see dogs in action in doggy disciplines.  I do, however, love the opportunity that Discover Dogs provides for people to meet and see different breeds.  My only concern with Discover Dogs is the long days for the dogs and potential stress that they can be under.  No matter what, one thing's for sure, the dates for next year's Crufts are already in my diary for 6-9 March 2014.

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