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Animal welfare charities unite for an exhilarating agility display!

Crufts 2008 will mark the eighth year that the UK’s leading animal welfare charities have united and formed a Rescue Dog Agility Team. The display aims to demonstrate the talents of dogs who were all stray or abandoned and rehomed through Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, The Blue Cross, RSPCA, Wood Green Animal Shelter and the National Animal Welfare Trust.

The dogs run in four teams: The Flying Fidos, The Waggy Woofers, The Mighty Minis and the Clever Canines. Like many rescue dogs, some of these have had a rough start in life. For example, Hullaballoo, a four year old Collie Cross, was especially frightened of men and other dogs because of his early experiences. But after 3 and a half years of patience and love, he has now ‘learnt to trust, and is a great big softie’ with everyone he knows, says current owner Helen Bronti. Hamish, a four year old Westie Cross was rescued by the SPCA as part of a ‘shipment’ of puppy-farmed puppies coming in at Stranraer port to be sold in Scotland. Another of the pets who may not have had such a happy ending is Rudi, an eight year old Collie who was named after Rudolph when he was born over the Christmas period at Dogs Trust West Calder. Sadly, his pregnant mother was abandoned at the rehoming centre gates. Collie Cross Murphy and Sheepdog Eddie were also in danger more recently. They nearly lost their lives in the floods last summer but were rescued by their determined owner.

However, all these rescue dogs have rewarded the love and care of their new two legged friends by being wonderful pets and being terrier-ifically entertaining to be around. Indeed as well as the obvious talents they will be showcasing this week, they also have some more quirky skills. Alfie, a nine year old Sheep Dog showed his culinary tendencies after he managed to switch his owner’s cooker on. Jess is a five year old cross breed who shows her cheeky side by stealingher owners shoes, coats and gloves. Although her owner, Helen Bronti says that her “best steal” was a whole rhubarb crumble, which managed to make “its way from the kitchen to her basket without a mark on it!”

Jack Johnstone, Assistant Field Director at Dogs Trust and Agility Team Co-ordinator comments: “As well as promoting rescue dogs and agility, these dogs love being in the spotlight and showing how intelligent and versatile they are. The charities and these dogs’ new owners are just so proud to see them competing at Crufts.”

Great things are expected of the Rescue Dogs Agility Team on Saturday, and rightfully so. The final member of the team, two year old Diva already carries the title “Agilitynet Rescue Dog of the Year 2007’.