My ‘Mini-Guide’ to Crufts!

Whether you’ve attended Crufts every year since a child or you’re in fact a first-timer, there’s really nothing quite like this annual fest of canine craziness.

If, like me, you’re gonna be there for the whole four days, I bet you’re also wondering if you’ll still even get the chance to see everything you’d like to see; so I thought I’d point out a few highlights taking place during the show (in chronological order):

Thursday 5th March, 1pm, Stand 10, Hall 3: Come along and say Hi to my Vizsla-loving business partner Andy and me, and help celebrate our very own web-venture www.ThePet.net ‘Year of the Rescue Pet’ with representatives of our nominated organization Hope Rescue (www.hoperescue.org.uk) who work slightly differently to other rescues by acting as a point of co-ordination between dog pounds and rescue shelters.

We’ll be raising funds to help save dogs from death row, to increase awareness of the current over-crowding in our many devoted rescue shelters (including pedigree breeds) and to encourage the public to come forward and adopt a rescue-dog.

Our www.ThePet.net Stand will also have something for the younger dog-fans too as we’ll be showing Sony Pictures Animation’s much-awaited latest movie, Open Season 2, starring Mr Weenie the Dachshund and a Poodle named Fifi. So if your family could do with a bit of a break – your are feet are hurting and your kids are tired – why not bring them along to our stand, watch the movie for a bit, and chill-out on our funky beanbags?

We’ll also be offering you and your dog the chance to win a holiday in a dog-friendly Cotswolds cottage. So why not come over and say Hi, would be really lovely to meet you all (there’s also a free doggy gift for everyone that signs up to www.ThePet.net at Crufts!)

Thursday 5th March, 2.30pm Stand 8, Hall 3: Lintbells, makers of canine-wonder-supplement Yumega are launching the first National Skin Health Survey in response to the recent surge in canine skin enquiries they have received, and revealing the true scale of the problems affecting our nation’s pets; many of which are thought to be suffering in silence. So why not come by and ask any questions about dog’s skin problems and visit www.petskinhealth.org.uk to just answer a few quick questions that will help the skins of thousands of dogs!

Friday 5th March, 11am Stand 90, Hall 5: Learn the proper way to bandage your dog’s wounds with Our Dogs’ Vince Hogan, myself and the Bella Moss Foundation (www.thebellamossfoundation.com), who’ve teamed-up with leading veterinary product manufacturers Millpledge (www.millpledge.com) to teach you the latest hand-hygiene and cleaning methods designed to protect your children and dogs from harmful bugs.

Friday 6th March, 11.30am Stand 174, Hall 4: Paw Plunger (www.pawplunger.co.uk), the innovative way of cleaning your dog’s mucky paws, will be presenting a cheque to its chosen charity Pets As Therapy (www.petsastherapy.org). Registered Pets As Therapy (PAT) dogs, such as Paw Plunger’s own Bearded Collie – Arty – visit nursing homes and hospitals to provide comfort and companionship to people who may be missing their own pets. The charity is now in its 25th year and the demand for PAT dogs is now greater than ever.

Friday 6th March, 12.30pm Stand 58, Hall 2: Why not come and meet Fudge, the assistance dog from the charity Support Dogs (www.support-dogs.org.uk) responsible for giving seriously disabled and wheelchair-bound Alan Checkley a new lease of life? Three-year-old Fudge is an English Springer Spaniel chosen and trained by the Support Dogs specifically for Alan’s needs, became a fully-fledged assistance dog last November and soon settled into his new role – taught to assist and support his disabled owner with his day-to-day tasks so Alan can begin to lead a fuller and more independent life.

Saturday 7th March, 10.30am Stand 50, Hall 1: Watch rescue Saluki-cross Support Dog patron ‘Saba’ – who plays the role of ‘Skipper’ on CBeebies’ Green Balloon Club – presented with the first of a new Equafleece (www.equafleece.co.uk) design in practical canine fleecewear.

Saturday 7th March, 11am Stand 108, Hall 2: Launching a nationwide campaign to find ‘Britain’s Smartest Dog’, internationally renowned Animal Psychologist, founder of The Company of Animals (www.companyofanimals.co.uk), and all-round nice guy Dr Roger Mugford, will be hosting an ‘Assistance Dog Charity Challenge’ to show just how clever assistance dogs really are. Dogs and handlers from Dogs for the Disabled, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Support Dogs and Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs will all be going head-to-head – should be a lot of fun.

Saturday 7th March, 4pm Stands 4, 6 and 8, Hall 2:  The fantastic Speaking Out For Animals (SOFA) group from Thorpe House School in Norwich (of which I am their extremely proud patron!!) will receive the scanners from Vince Hogan (MD of Our Dogs) as they have raised enough money to buy 2 scanners through the Dog Theft Action (www.dogtheftaction.com) Scanner Appeal by holding a cake sale!

They are for 2 rescues that they support near home. The Scanner Appeal is a DTA initiative that has benefitted immensely from the Bruce Forsyth Vets Get Scanning (www.vetsgetscanning.co.uk) Appeal. Debbie Matthews’ Vets Get Scanning has donated several scanners that have been presented to deserving organisations that care for dogs.

This shows DTA in its important role of catalyst – bringing organisations, groups and individuals together for the benefit of dogs. The SOFA students will be joining the DTA stand throughout the day to man their petition (www.gopetition.com/petitions/compulsory-microchipping-of-dogs) and explaining about dog theft. SOFA and I are campaigning for compulsory microchipping in the UK to help prevent dogs getting lost, stolen or straying.

Sunday 8th March, 5pm Stand 70, Hall 3: Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs (www.cancerdogs.co.uk) founder Claire Guest will be presented with a cheque from Samsung (www.samsung.com) who support its work training cancer detection dogs and hypo-alert dogs for diabetics. Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs is an extremely forward-thinking charity that utilizes dogs’ natural instincts and incredible sense of smell to make a difference to the human world. The work they do within the medical profession offers the potential to provide earlier diagnosis of cancer and therefore earlier commencement of treatment with a greater chance of achieving success.

Other stands to check out are my good friends, those funky hand-made dog-collar makers Holly & Lil (Stand 12, Hall 2; www.hollyandlil.co.uk) – as featured a fortnight ago on the Friday Night with Jonathan Ross show; as well as über-cool dog nutritional supplement dudes Pooch & Mutt (Stand 80, Hall 4; www.poochandmutt.com).

I’ll be easy to spot running around the NEC in my trademark blue scrubs; and also check out my ‘Buying a Puppy’ article in the official Crufts show guide, read my Crufts blog every day (www.crufts.org.uk) and tune into my twice daily interviews on Crufts FM and my ‘Funky Half-hour’ on the Our Dogs Stand 80 in Hall 2 between 10.30 and 11 o’clock on Thursday and Friday as well… See you in a couple of days… Phew!

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