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13/11/01
Discover Dogs
report by Diana Rich

DISCOVER DOGS at Earls Court is an occasion that has blossomed into a complete event in a class of its own. It is totally different to Crufts, where people come to see 'Discover Dogs' as part of the Crufts experience; here the visitors come purely to discover dogs. Visitors were queuing as far as the eye could see all morning on both days, and they were still coming in at gone 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, unlike last year when we were all hit by the petrol crisis. We must be grateful that the weather was good and they waited patiently for so long to get in.

It is also one of the few occasions where doggie people come together in a joint and united effort to promote the world of pedigree dogs without the element of competition.

Each breed is allocated a booth and the clubs and breeders decorate them with pictures of the breed at various stages of life, often from suckling new born to senior years and all the stages in between. There was bunting and flags to show the country of origin, history of the breed and information about breed clubs. There were pictures showing other activities that the breeds excel at, including racing, working and gundog activities and so very much more.

The breed booths are packed with visitors all day long. Experienced and enthusiastic breed consultants man the stands, and some of the senior people in our sport come to promote their breed. It is good to see people like Osman Sameja, Ann Arch, Liz Stannard and so many more willing to share their wealth of knowledge of their dogs. They answer the same questions asked over and over again with amazing patience and a smile as if that was the first time that question had been posed today!


One of the many demonstrations that took place in the Special Events Ring featured the Good Citizens Dog Scheme.

Many people ask where they can find out about breeders with puppies for sale, and a large number enquire about how to get a rescued dog, one lady for details of the rescue because a neighbour had a terminal illness and wanted her dog rehomed before the inevitable happened.

While I was at the Yorkshire Terrier stand it was very sad to hear a gentleman from the Biggin Hill area in Kent relate how his 9 year old pet yorkie bitch Sibil had been stolen from his riding stables the day after the New York tragedy, and ten days later they came back and stole her litter brother Basil. His young son David obviously found it very distressing. If anyone had any information which could help him please ring Mr Cotts on 01959 573852, I believe he is offering a reward for their safe return.


Celebrity guest on the PAL/SCRUFFTS stand was TV and film personality, Ricky Tomlinson,
pictured here with Debbie & Neil Flint, from VIP Insurance.

It is also very noticeable that the rare breeds are treated as equal to the mainstream breeds, and the effort put in by their promoters is evident. It was a pleasure to listen to Stuart Band telling curious visitors the history of his Bergamasco and how this unusual coat formed such an important part of the dogs defence against the extreme elements in its original working state. Also how a dog of this size can live with small dogs so easily because of it's natural herding instincts.

The only form of competition in the breed stands is that the Kennel Club award a plaque to the three breed booths that they feel had something extra special to offer. This year first place went to the very attractive Bassett Griffon Van Deen stand that was decorated by Linda Skerritt and Sue Pooley. It was a double booth with the Grand at one end and the Petite at the other; it had just the right balance of pictures, information, bunting and plants. This was a well thought out and well planned presentation which was a very worthy winner, although it was very sad for the people who were manning the stand on Sunday afternoon to find that their much prised plaque was missing - lets hope it will be recovered soon.


Vince Hogan of OUR DOGS experiences an arresting moment on the OUR DOGS stand with the appearance of TV personality, Chris Ellison, of The Bill and Burnside. Chris's favourite breed is the Jack Russell, and he borrowed 'Gracie' from the Parson Jack Russell stand for our photograph.

The second prize went to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, another double booth which was very quietly informative with a very large picture of each of the recognised colours of the breed, small silhouette cut outs of the dogs showing their qualities of reliable, loving etc and plenty of dogs for the public to look at and handle, but their show piece was the video they had playing with told people all they could possibly want to know about a CKCS.

Third place went to the Pugs, another quietly but tastefully decorated booth. Their pen was decorated with a doggie sofa and lovely rugs, a beautiful crystal vase and a tray-stand showing the pug was a dog which was well used to a life of luxury from the days when it was well favoured by families of royalty.


TV peresonality and author, Jan Fennell, launched a new name on the pet trade scene at Discover Dogs. Medi-Pet is the brainchild of Carla Whyte and Lisa Gantley, the product is a specialist first aid kit for dogs. Watch for further details in forthcoming issues of OUR DOGS.

After the breed booths one comes to the trade stands, and they seemed to be very happy with the attendance this year. I spoke to several of the traders and they all seemed to report that business had been good. Some of the trade stands are the ones we are used to seeing at our championship shows, but there were others offering things to the pet owner which they just cannot find in the standard or specialist pet shops.

There was also face-painting being carried out all day on both days, and the children's faces were done spectacularly well, they were among the best I have seen. I understand that Mrs Chris Wheeler, one of the advisors from the Chinese Crested stand, was so impressed that she had her face done too!

Celebrities

These events usually attract a number of celebrities, on the OUR DOGS stand we saw Jan Fennel, The Dog Listener from Channel 5; Annette Crosbie, from One Foot in the Grave; and Chris Ellison, from The Bill. It was interesting to talk to Chris, who is immediately recognisable from his alter image D I Burnside; he was accompanied by his daughter Francesca. They do not have a dog because their cat Jack leaves home at the merest hint of a dog arriving in the house although they content themselves by regularly walking dogs with the RSPCA. Wendy Richards is another regular visitor to this occasion, and again she was signing autographs on Sunday afternoon.


Visitors to the OUR DOGS stand included TV personality, Annette Crosbie, from the popular One Foot in the Grave TV series, together with Jan Fennell, who has just completed another series of The Dog Listener on Channel 5.
Annette was helping to raise funds on the Greyhound Rescue stand.

The Metropolitan Police attracted very large crowds with a big puppy pen with young puppies there for socialisation, and working dogs just there for you to touch and ask questions. Apart from the general working dogs, they had their sniffer dogs and their fascinating passive sniffer dogs. A passive sniffer dog will walk past a line of people, either at the entrance of a nightclub, in a prison or stand at the end of the escalator at the tube station and when they smell drugs they just go and sit in from of that person. Apparently they are so successful at their job when they operate at the tube stations that they cannot work for long periods at a time because they find so many people and the Police will run out of man-power long before the dogs give up!

There are also two rings with various events going on all day long. The training and display ring and the main ring. The Police demonstrations are always well received, and there were also demonstrations of how to train dogs for agility, heelwork to music, and the socialisation of training hearing dogs and guide dogs.


Deana Selby and 'Angel' from the NCDL pictured with NCDL Chief Executive, Clarissa Baldwin.

In the main ring there was a parade of each of the groups of dogs, with all the breeds represented, and demonstrations of heelwork to music. On Saturday the semi-finals of the Kennel Gazette Junior Warrant Competition which were judged by Micheal Quinney and Albert Wight, and the final which was decided by Mrs Ferilith Somerfield, the overall winner being the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Imbali Kipenzi JW.


Peter Mann receives a cheque from Tom Grant of Pedigree Masterfoods, the result of the special tombola organised by Pedigree in aid of the Kennel Club charitable Trust.

Sunday saw the finals of the finals of the Scruffts Family Crossbreed Dog of the Year. This was judged by Ricky Tomlinson of Royle family fame, and assisted by June Minns. It was held in 4 categories and the winner of the Most Handsome Crossbred Dog Final was Monty, a Gordon Setter/Golden Retriever cross owned by Mrs Julia Millard from Stradishall in Suffolk. The overall winner of the Prettiest Crossbred Bitch was Katiryllis (Kati) belonging to Mrs Daphne Greenall from East Sussex, Kati had suffered horrendous injuries after being thrown under the wheels of a juggernaut but she can still smile with the best of them. The Best Rescue was Luke, who had been orphaned when his mother had been shot for worrying sheep and the litter were left to fend for themselves before being found and delivered to the RSPCA. The Crossbred the Judge Would Most Like To Take Home category was won by Ben, owned by Wendy Wass from Brandon in Suffolk and another dog who found his owners through the RSPCA adoption centre. There was a huge cheer when Ricky Tomlinson declared the Overall Final winner of the Pal Scruffts Crossbreed Dog of the Year to be Kati, the three legged prettiest bitch who regularly visits a home for the terminally ill; his very proud owner said this was the best day of her life. Pictures are on the www.scruffts.co.uk website. It is rewarding to know this competition also realised 8,180 for the National Canine Defence League.