So Crufts has come and gone, and we are faced with the soon-to-be iconic image of this year's Best in Show winners - Ricky and his co-owner and handler Jason. If you're interested in seeing more about the winners and finalists, you can read about them in my previous Crufts roundup article.
Now, I'm not one of the many Crufts haters out there. I do have concerns with the pedigree breeding process and the health issues that many of these animals go through, but that's not what keeps going through my head.
What has been playing on my mind is the scene you see above, and if you watched Crufts, the same thing happened about 3 or 4 times. Jason, having just won, holds Ricky's mouth closed, kisses him on the nose, and as he releases Ricky, Ricky pulls his head away. Don't get me wrong - Ricky seems perfectly happy parading and doing his thing, but there definitely did not seem to be any affection between him and Jason. If I know dogs, and I think I know them pretty well, they don't like having their snout gripped closed, and they don't like having their head controlled while you kiss them on the nose. It seemed like Jason may as well have been kissing the trophy, or kissing a prize orchard at a flower show.
So I'm wondering what happens behind the scenes with the beautiful Ricky. No I don't think he's abused, but I do wonder if is he given the love that dogs need and dish out so willingly?
How many of the show dogs out there are treated as assets? I know this is not the rule for show dogs. We've met very many contestants from Crufts and other shows. Their dogs are their family. They love them dearly. They also happen to be very proud of their dog's appearance or capabilities and choose to compete them. This doesn't in any way take away from the love they show their dogs. In fact is might mean the dogs get shown even more love and attention than they would otherwise. My concerns is for those prized assets out there. The ones that are bread, and co-owned by multiple people, who invest in their possessions, and train for the win. Ricky is being retired from international competition. So what next. Prize stud breeding. At least he gets to have fun for the rest of his life, but I doubt he will be a relaxing near a warm fire, or sleeping at the foot of the bed.
So those are my thoughts in a nutshell. The only other thought I would add is the following. Last year we had a stall at Crufts, and one of the products we were demonstrating was our Pet Water Bottles. Now we're extremely happy for people to swing past our stand to get a little water for their dogs - helps us demo the bottles. However, we get more than a little concerned when we see the number of contestants who don't seem to bring along water for their dogs, or any way of giving it to the dogs. Shows can be very stressful environments, and the NEC, with its big bright lights, is a warm place and dry place. Dogs get dehydrated easily - so please make sure to carry water for your dogs. You know your dog would do it for you if they could....
Until next time