Crufts is such a big show and even a three day visit is not enough to see it all. Had we been there all four days, we would still only have scratched the surface. If you are on a mission, as we were, prioritising is essential well before you get to the show. Friday's half day visit had given us a taster and on Saturday we set off with great excitement and minds set on the plan we had prepared.
We travelled joyfully to the Natural Instinct stand, to check if they needed us for any special jobs. Secretly, we knew there would be lots of loving and many many treats. We were not disappointed! The first person we saw was our nutritionist, Bianca, so we pulled in our tummies to disguise at the plentiful breakfast we had just eaten, and went straight in for a cuddle.
Bianca and I had met previously, and she greeted me enthusiastically before I introduced her to Dolly, who lapped up all the attention while surveying the crowd milling around in the background. Bianca did not mention our weight, Phew! Clearly she was too busy adoring us.
Having received our orders for the day, we promised to return later, and in our trusty Bentley, went to look at some charities.
I guess most people, at least in Great Britain, have heard of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Over the last few years it has had lots of TV exposure through the programme, Paul O'Grady on Dogs. If you have not yet come across this shelter, here is a little information.
Established in North London in 1860 the Home moved to Battersea in 1871. Tody, the organisation houses an average of 260 dogs and 220 cats at any given time, which amount to 7000 animals coming into their care every single year. Their aim is to never turn away a dog or cat in need of help, and will care for them until their rightful owners come to claim them, or loving new homes can be found, however long that takes. They impose no time limit.
As well as the main Battersea site, they have other kennels at Old Windsor Berkshire, and Brands Hatch Kent. These smaller quieter homes are ideal for needy dogs who might be spooked at the busy London site. They also have local fosterers to provide temporary families when required.
As you can see, their stand was busy when we visited, and every time we passed it was just the same.
Because we had to walk a lot and this show is so noisy, we went to the Press Office to recharge our batteries. En route, we passed the Hearing Dogs for the Deaf stand, which was surrounded by a huge crowd, waiting to get a glimpse of Rachel Riley, who works numerical miracles on the TV show, Countdown. We are not normally celeb hunters, but as we were having a drink in the press office, who should appear, but Rachel Riley herself? Soon we were in her arms being cuddled and loved, which was great because she really is a dog lover.
Next, it was back to the Natural Instinct Stand for another celebrity shoot, this time with TV personality Jodie Marsh, who had brought her wonderful rottweiler to meet us. What a lovely lady! She loves dogs, and was happy to be available to everyone who wanted to see her. Numerous photos were taken and we were delighted to pose with Jodie and our Natural Instinct colleagues, Michelle, Emma and Bianca.
After this exciting Crufts day, we went back to our hotel, where we saw much of the arena action on TV. Once more Dolly had a good old growl at the agility pooches, silly girl. But who can complain? She had only lived with us for seven weeks, experienced much change, and we were now asking her to cope with what was a noisy, crowded show. Dolly did marvellously, earning the title, 'Our Little Trooper' and for both of us Crufts was a triumph. Can't wait for next year!