Visiting the National Pet Show was an enormous privilege, and I determined to do it justice in my reports. From my research, I knew there would be lots of things to see and people to meet. As it turned out I was busier than I ever thought possible.
When I arrived at the show, one of the first things to greet me was Noah’s Ark, which goes back to Old Testament times! It’s amazing how good it looks after all these centuries!
But hang on, perhaps this was Noel’s Ark and not Noah's! Whatever its history, it looked pretty sturdy and was well fitted out for events like book signings and talks. See all those comfy cushions on the floor? They were there so people could sit to watch and listen to whatever was going on.
On one occasion, when we passed by, we saw a long line of people waiting for TV personality, Michaela Strachan to sign her book. I bet she was glad to have the giraffe nearby to give her a helping hoof.
That giraffe was well travelled, as I discovered when I found him wandering around, unsupervised, on our second morning. He looked his usual dapper self so maybe he just wanted a private, unhurried viewing of all that the National Pet Show had to offer. Or maybe he needed to go outside for a, well, who knows what?
Before we leave the Ark, was that a tiny kitten I saw trying to break in after a long crawl up the side of this amazing vessel? Goodness, he looks remarkably like the little cat who tries to get into our garden then scarpers when we bark and chase him out!
Not far from the Ark was the All About Dogs Talks area. With a full programme each day, it was not unusual to find this little arena filled with people wanting to listen to experts sharing their wisdom and experience. Here, straw bales were used for seating, and I am told they can be quite comfortable, for a short while.
There were several other arenas and demonstration spaces, and one in particular made me feel a bit scared. Within a safe, fenced space a hawk was doing it's stuff! Birds of prey are quite magnificent, majestic, and amazingly clever in hunting their prey, but I tell you, I didn't want to be anywhere near that bird. Wow! He was a big’un and I’ve heard stories of these huge beasts picking up Dachshunds then flying away to eat them for dinner. The picture may not be too plain, but can you see the hawk flying, fairly low, from one end of the arena to the other?
Now back to the canine area. On our rounds we came across some lovely dogs, like this rather super poodle who was a canine partner to his lovely Mum with whom I had quite a chat. The Canine Partners organisation transforms the lives of people with disabilities by training dogs to help them with their everyday lives.
Once trained, these dogs help their disabled partners to live more independently by assisting them with a number of household tasks. Their value as partner dogs is also found in bringing their humans psychological and social enrichment, as well as greater confidence in their daily lives.
Moving on to commercial exhibitors, I was impressed by the way they presented their goods, and was particularly wowed by a little truck loaded to the roof with dog food! I tell you, as a chap with an immense appetite, but is on a weight loss diet, I was dying to get right inside that vehicle and scoff the lot! Isn’t that the cutest van you have ever seen?
While on the subject of motor vehicles, I was interested to see one car that had been adapted to provide prison transport for dogs! As you can see the boot (trunk) has been ‘carved up’ to provide room for a dog in what looks like a padded cell, with space alongside for perhaps a stroller? I know such an arrangement means dogs can’t go rampant during journeys, thereby keeping the driver and passengers safe but one thing worries me about this. If someone runs into the back of the car, the dogs are the first to feel the bang, and maybe get squashed. Just a thought!
As you may know, we like Nordic dog breeds, but had never heard of Lupine Dogs who I now know are actually wolf look-alike dogs.
While the wolf has inspired the human imagination for generations, it is generally unwise and unkind to consider keeping one in your home! However, the wolf-look-alike dog, the British Lupine has been bred and raised ethically as family dogs with excellent temperaments. It is great to know that The British Lupine-Dog International Society Gold Standard ensures all Lupine puppies are the ‘creme-de-la-creme’ of natural-type companion dogs. They have a register of responsible breeders and owners of wolf look-alike dogs. Here's one that we met at the show.
The British Lupine Dog (a wolf-alike dog) comes from a wide gene pool including German Shepherd, Husky, Malamute, Northern Inuit, Utonagan and Saarloos.
Of course, I wanted to know about their characteristics, and this is what I discovered:
Weight: 26 kg (min bitches) – 56kg (max dogs)
Eyes: Yellow to brown acceptable
Coat: Mid to long acceptable
Colours: White to black, with variety of grey and brown
natural blends in between all acceptable
These are athletic, powerful dogs who are generally free from many of the conformational flaws affecting other large breeds.
They are intelligent, trainable, active dogs who are also happy to ‘switch off’ and relax in the home. They are playful, affectionate and deeply loyal dogs who are likely to get anxiety separation if left alone.
Like all working, hunting and sporting canines, the Lupine ideally needs to use and develop its innate natural instincts, meaning owners must be dedicated to exercising and stimulating their dogs. Oh yes, and they need lots of grooming.
I met these dogs several times during our visit, and not once did they flicker a whisker as I spoke to their owners, and stared at the pooches in awe and wonder. In fact, I rather fancied snuggling up for a nap with them.
One of the highlights of my National Pet Show experience was meeting some very important Border Force Dogs. I had a great time with one particular Springer Spaniel, who loved to play ball. For Border Force Dogs, this is a regular reward for a job well done, and I rather fancy that talking to me was considered work for him. Mum even threw the ball and of course, he caught it! What did I learn from this great little fellow when he woofed about his work?
Anyone who has watched TV programmes about the work of Border Force Dogs will be aware that these chaps have great sniffing abilities, and hearing about some of the things they look out for was so interesting.
Passengers and other people in the terminals and docks.
They also cover the parcels import areas.
He said this was not an exhaustive list, as he is highly trained to detect much more than the public are aware of. He told me he works in all kinds of areas including vehicles, aircraft and sea-going vessels. If you take a flight, you are likely to see these dogs at work airside. In the case of sea travel, they will be portside.
If required, the dogs can be sent to any part of the country for a short time, which makes them well travelled pooches. However they are mostly attached to one site.
I asked the handler about the legal duties of Border Force Officers, and was told they have powers of search and arrest. In each location there are custody facilities where, after being held, a suspect may be transferred to the civil Police Force who will deal further with them.
I learned that most Border Force dogs remain with their handlers when retired, and generally bond with the new working dog that takes their place.
All Border Force dogs do a wonderful job and we owe a great deal to them for keeping us safe, and getting villains locked up.
What an interesting end to my National Pet Show debut! I thought that if I was half as smart as that beautiful and clever dog, I would be very lucky, and so would my Mum. Secretly, I believe she thinks I am pretty smart already! I try to be a credit to her, and like the Border Force Dog, know that I am much loved. For our part, we love our humans more than anything and are irresistible to the human eye.
Major Events Editor (GB)
19th November 2018
Photography: Diana Bailey
Thanks to Phoebe Foo for her exxcellent proof reading,