My final report on Crufts may be a little
delayed, but I think it is good to recall memories of some of the amazing dogs and humans I met at the great show.
When we journalists get together,
it is great to catch up with colleagues qw rarely see, and to meet new people with interesting stories.
This year, one of the first people
I met was Allen Parton of Hounds for Heroes. You may remember that last year we were absolutely overwhelmed by the work done by this organisation. If you need a reminder,
I was so pleased to see him and his lovely dogs again, and he taught
Mum something very special indeed. “I’m afraid I’m having to do Crufts on my scooter this year,” she said, to which Allen replied “Never apologise for using the scooter, because it
allows you to keep doing the things you like to do.” With that encouragement, I say that the world is our oyster!
A very different organisation we came across was the HTM Team GB, aka Britain’s
Heelwork To Music Team. These elite handlers and dogs have been chosen by The Kennel Club to represent Great Britain at the Heelwork to Music Championships, in The Netherlands on
9-12 November. Additionally, they will be competing at the Open European Championships in Switzerland 12-14 October 2018.
The team comprises human/dog
partnerships from around Britain. They are entirely self-funded and always looking for ways to raise much needed financial support and I wondered if any of our readers can help in this
respect. I am sure there are plenty of ways you can help. Why not take a look at their Face Book Fundraising Auction page. Click:
This is a very strong,
competitive team and if you would like more information, please contact Kath Hardman (Team GB Manager) at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a real heart for dogs with jobs, and was delighted to encounter the charity
‘Veterans with Dogs’ which matches trained assistance dogs with veterans with invisible injuries. These dog/human partnerships are so important for veterans who may, for instance, need a
reminder to take their medication, or turn on lights and provide comfort when flashbacks occur, or even detect the onset of panic attacks. Anyone who has ever struggled with such issues
will understand how comforting even an untrained pet dog can be when feeling vulnerable. Obviously, with specially trained pooches the effect of having such a pal is even more
Former British Armed Forces personnel with mental health difficulties find life less worrying or
frightening with a dog trained by Veterans With Dogs. Like all charities, they depend upon donations and volunteers to keep going. They have a variety of volunteering opportunities,
e.g. organising or helping at fundraising events, or providing office support. They would love to hear from you!
My final Crufts meeting was with a
wonderful young man named Joel, and his Labrador retriever Assistance Dog. Caddie Joel has invisible disabilities, and is helped beyond measure by Caddie a finalist in the
Eukanuba Friends for Life Competition 2017.
a chat with Joel and his Mum, to learn how Caddie helps him day by day. As a small child, Joel suffered with sleep apnoea, then was diagnosed with autism and a sensory disorder as well as
a speech and language impediment.
to Caddie coming into Joel’s life via Dogs for Good, he was unable to leave the house, speak with people or lead a normal life.
Caddie has helped Joel to cope with life in a quite extraordinary way. He calms Joel when his stress levels are high, and with his best pal by his side, this
incredible young man is able to communicate more easily, as I discovered for myself
course, Caddie helps all the family. Mum Janet told me how Joel’s face lit up when meeting this very special dog for the first time, and the rest is history, as they say. Janet
spoke of a time when she was out with Joel and Caddie one day. She burst into tears on seeing her reflection in a shop window, and realised that she was able to take her eyes off her
son for just a fleeting moment. While most Mums might think this was no big deal, for Janet it was overwhelming because she had never been able to do so before! We felt so
privileged to meet Joel, Caddie and Janet, and will remember them always. To see a video of Joel and Caddie please click;
Crufts is by its nature associated with the dog show element, that is not the whole story! As well as the dogs who compete in the breed rings, are non-competing pooches;
some are journalists like me, while others take part in agility, flyball or similar competitions. Some dogs demonstrate heel work to music or other clever routines. Exciting as they
may be, for me the real stars are dogs like Caddie, and other working hounds who make an incredible difference to the lives of their humans. Indeed, some are literally life savers and
deserve every accolade we can give to them.
so ended our Crufts visit this year. Again, I apologise for the late reporting, largely due to Mum being ill, and promise to keep her fighting fit for 2019.
Sub Editor, The Daxington