Throughout the year there are qualifying heats for Scruffts held all over the country culminating in this prestigious Grand Final on the final day at Discover Dogs in London.
The categories are Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog (6months – 5 years), Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog (6 yrs +), Prettiest Bitch (6months – 5 years), Prettiest Bitch (6 yrs +), Child’s Best Friend and the last but not least The Crossbreed The Judge Would Most Like To Take Home.
The commentary for this is given by Nick Brooks-Ward and he manages to whip the crowd into such enthusiasm for the exhibits and handlers, while Mason Minns as Chief Steward manages to keep them all under control.
This year the judge was Keith Chegwin, better known to millions as ‘Cheggers’. Before the judging started he was at the Pal Scruffts Stand with Nick Piercey (Heart FM DJ in Birmingham) and the two of them were managing to keep the crowd thoroughly entertained.
Keith tells me he had a Border Collie for 14 years and when they lost her they asked vets for their opinion as to which breed to get as a good family pet. He was surprised when so many recommended a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, having the commonly held impression that they were not ideal in a family environment. Four years later and he is a firm advocate of the Staffie as the ideal family pet. ‘Milo’ is a big hit wherever he goes and is perfect with Keith’s six year old son; not only multi-tasking, this dog is multi talented too.
A large Kennel Club logo was hung high above the main ring, and on entering the ring Cheggers said he was delighted to see his initials (KC) suspended above them all! Keith was accompanied and assisted by Mrs June Minns and although Cheggers entered the ring doing a cart-wheel, June declined his invitation to do the same!
The first category was Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog (6 months – 5 years), and the dogs all entered the ring having come from all over the country. Nick Brooks-Ward interviewed each handler separately while Keith and June checked each dog over thoroughly.
Before announcing the winner, Cheggers said it was the hardest job he had ever had to do because they were all so lovely, but in deciding they had considered which would make the ideal family pet and he awarded it to Monty belonging to Susan Hadingham in Surrey. Monty was originally a stray from Ireland and they re-homed him through a rescue in South Wales. Monty has befriended the youngest member of the family who is autistic and they have become best friends.
Paddy the Rough Collie cross from Ipswich was 2nd and 3rd spot went to Lance who lives in Oldham but had been born in a Rescue Home.
The second competition was Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog (6 yrs +), and this was another closely fought contest. Bobby won through this time, owned by Michael Reid of West Sussex, Bobby is a good swimmer and loves ball games.
Toby from Rossendale was runner up, he had been abandoned twice by the time he was home wih Johanne Hirst at 17 weeks old, but he is now eight years and is her best friend. In 3rd place was Spike owned by a family with three girls, a border terrier and a cat, he also takes part in educational events in schools and community centres.
The 3rd competion was the Prettiest Bitch (6 months – 5 years), and this was won by Buffy, who looked just like Bobby the dog from Faking It. A Bichon Frise x Border Collie, she is an extrovert who regularly competes in Agility, Obedience and Flyball competitions; she has competed at Crufts and has appeared on Blue Peter. Millie from Cheshire took 2nd spot; she was hand reared by the family from just two weeks of age; and in 3rd place was Lucy from Gloucestershire and they have dubbed her ‘mini St Bernard’ because they have no idea of her origins.
Prettiest Bitch (6 yrs +) was Polly owned by Mrs Sue Small from Staffordshire, Polly had been left behind on a farm when the farm changed hands. Sue has owned Polly for four years now and she has already earned her Good Citizens Silver award. Portia was 2nd from Croydon in Surrey and is very gentle and affectionate. 3rd spot went to Hattie owned by Mrs Sandra Jones of Liverpool, Hattie was part of a litter which was abandoned and rescued by the RSPCA.
The Child’s Best Friend was True, belonging to Tammy Barker. Tammy and True have been on radio and TV helping to promote the Dogs Trust. Fudge came down from Derbyshire with owner Jenny Pearson to take the runner up spot and in 3rd place was Cosmo a Battersea dog who now lives in Wimbledon with Mrs Wilberforce-Ritchie.
The last competition was is The Crossbreed The Judge Would Most Like To Take Home and after much deliberation it was awarded to Summer. This was a real success story for Mrs Anne Raymond, a volunteer for the Retired Greyhound Trust. Dyson took 2nd spot, a stray found by the RSPCA who spent seven months in kennels and several failed home attempts, but he has landed on his feet now. The 3rd place went to Brillo, a cheeky Yorkie x Jack Russell owned by Mrs Patricia Taylor from Leamington Spa.
With suitable pomp and ceremony the six winners of the finals re-appeared for Keith and June to decide on the Scruffts Family Crossbred of the Year 2003: Overall Winner and the winner was the Bichon Frise x Border Collie Buffie with her young handler Ashleigh Butler from Wellingborough, Northants.