Goodbye Crufts 2019

When I received the invitation to become Dog of Honour at the Ibis Styles, NEC Birmingham, I hastily accepted, then panicked as I wondered what was involved.  And so it  was that with excitement and some trepidation I set off for  my first ever Crufts visit.  


With privilege comes responsibility, so I had to be available for photoshoots, meet and greets with other guests, and showing how absolutely fabulous I am.  Now considered a member of staff I felt it important to  learn hospitality skills, and asked for  a crash course in hotel management.  Very soon I was behind the reception desk preparing to greet new guests, and to familiarise them with the  hotel's facilities.

The processes were quite complex, but Omar, one of the managers explained everything.  The job entails booking people in, checking them out, producing bills, allocating rooms, making card keys, and ensuring that the client’s specific needs are noted, while being pleasant and smiling all the time.   Please never get impatient if these things take time… it’s a tough job behind that desk.


On the following evening, I worked in the bar and soon got the hang of all those cocktail recipes, advising guests re wine and beer choices, and remembering to ask “Ice and lemon Sir?”   It is important to always be a congenial host, which after a hard day at Crufts is not easy.  However, as a consummate professional I stepped up and did a pretty good job.  Omar and the barman were impressed!

After all this activity I was a tired pup, and headed for bed for a bit of duty and beauty sleep. 


When Sunday dawned I looked forward to another busy day with its emphasis on Toy and Utility dogs.  I remembered I had promised Madeleine Knight from the training group that we would visit her Coton du Tulear dogs at some point.  Now when you enter the Toy dog area, at some point you will inevitably find yourself in a world of great fluffiness.


I know that some people are not keen on Crufts, thinking it too stressful for the dogs.    All I can say is that these Coton du Tulears looked completely chilled to me! 

Whether in their curlers, or sporting a Bouffant hair-do each dog looked very contented.


For Coton du Tulears, aspiring to be the smartest dog in the ring involves lots of grooming.  They have masses of coat that feels just like cotton thread and being white, every little mark shows.  Why do they wear curlers and have their top knots braided.  I asked Madeleine who told me that because white long haired breeds do normal doggy things like tucking into their food bowls, the tapes help to minimise discolouration of their ears and chin. The following three pictures of her dogs show how well this works.

Now don't you think the result is stunning?


One Coton du Tulear that we met was clearly very keen to be ultra white, and wore what looked like ringlet cloth strips!  I couldn’t resist taking his photo

In the next benching area, we found the Bichon Frisés.   They too are white, but with curly, woolly coats that need trimming to make them look fluffy and sweet. Of course show dogs expect to look their best, meaning that good grooming is essential. Baths, combs, scissors, brushes, coat dressing and even a little application of chalk may be essential elements.  Believe me, when mingling with this breed, it is patently ovious that to reach the top, handlers really do have their work cut out.  Just look at them doing their stuff to prepare perfectly turned out dogs  for the ring.

Of course not all toy dogs need  the same degree of grooming, although chaps like the little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel below need a bit of trimming on a regular basis.  When we met him, his ear fur was a little ruffled after a long journey from Germany, but his handler quickly ran a soft brush through his locks which made him look fantastic. 

It is said that you can often tell where certain breeds have congregated by the sound of their barks, and this is especially true of Chihuahuas!  What a joy they are!   These little souls, tiny as they are, have enormous personalities, and mega amounts of courage, but refuse to believe  they are not the biggest dogs on  earth!   We met a couple of super little smooths (apologies for the quality of the second picture).  Click photos to expand.

Alongside them were the long haired Chihuahuas, who looked very pleased with themselves.   Clcik pictures to expand.

I had quite a chat with one little fellow, who told me how important he is to his Mum, and I sensed this was reciprocal.  I guess you have to be either a pooch or a dog's human to understand how strong is the bond between the two, and the therapeutic gifts they share with each other.  I loved this little man's inquisitive expression and obvious joy at being at Crufts.  

I had organised interviews with Janet Hughes of Agria insurance and also a representative of the Kennel Club Health Scheme Department, and these were so valuable. Each provided much interesting information which I will write about in due course.


We had hoped to interview Finn the Police Dog and his dad, but had problems with phone lines and then quite rightly Crufts had planned a very full day for them.  Sadly, we needed to leave in the early afternoon but we hope to catch up with them soon.  I am still rejoicing that they won the Friends for Life competition and can’t wait for Finn’s Law to receive Royal Assent from the Queen and become an Act of Parliament.


By now I was really flagging and decided I needed at nap at the hotel before returning home.  However, there was one more call to make, to the DogRobes stand For some time I have coveted Dolly’s drying robe, and wanted to see if they had one to fit me.  I learned today that my friend Archer bought the cable knit model,  but I felt that the Dogrobes bespoke tartan was more appropriate for me.   Oh yes, the one I tried fitted perfectly, and I returned home with this beautiful drying garment in it’s very classy packaging.  

After returning to my hotel for one last look at my special wall, a cup of coffee and a farewell chat with my new colleagues, we set off for home, although I remember nothing of the journey, nor the following 24 hours!    Crufts had been tiring but I would not have missed it for the world.  Mum previously decided that 2019 would be the last year to attend this great dog show in person, but I've told her my bags are already packed and I say “stand by 2020, I’m on my way!”

Oscar Teckel


15th March 2019


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© Diana Bailey