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A dog lover and her money are soon parted at this show

I remember when I was a girl a TV advert proclaiming ‘We’re only here for the beer’, well, away from the show rings, a much repeated refrain at Crufts was ‘We’re mainly here for the shopping’, … and what a lot there was to buy!

by Sheena Stratton

From fine art to food, from couture collars to crates, from grooming tables to tennis balls whatever you and you could desire was available to purchase. As I’d had to leave Willow, my working type English Setter, at home (she may be many things, but show dog isn’t one of them!), I was sure she deserved a treat or two so set out to fulfil her wish list.

I firmly believe you could spend a whole day at Crufts and not clap eyes on a dog. There are so many other things to see… The many charity and rescue stalls always draw my eye and it’s great to see such a wide variety represented. If dog is man’s best friend it’s good to see some human’s trying to redress the balance when it’s the canines in need. I thought it well worthwhile to stock up on some long lasting, environmentally friendly shopping bags from Dog’s Trust and Guide Dogs to carry my future purchases.

Where to start? I knew Willow had her eye on a new collar; I saw beautiful diamante collars, glamorous but not very practical for a dog who loves to swim and thrash through the undergrowth on her walks, many leather and ‘everyday’ collars and special occasion collars with jewels and charms but finally settled on a smart and tough red cow skin number from the fabulous selection at Holly and Lil. If any dog can test these collars for longevity, it’s Willow! Now I was on a roll. I’d spotted so many interesting items on my collar hunt I just knew that those bags would soon be filling up with goodies for a certain spoilt young lady.

Leads, toys, bones and chews, medicines, paintings, ornaments, cards, gifts, shampoos and even hair dryers all attracted my attention, and lots of goodies had me reaching for my fast emptying purse. I even bought myself a Wallace and Gromit Mug in aid of the Children’s Foundation, so I could enjoy a well deserved cuppa on my return home, and got a wonderful new book, by Juliet Cunliffe, that I had coveted for all four days of the show on the Our Dogs stand, as a surprise present from my other half.

As ever there were new products as well as old favourites. This year saw a vast increase in the array of holistic and organic products available, following the trend seen in human shopping as well. Many of these are small concerns including the family run ‘Healthy Paws’ who have won the Merseyside Entrepreneur of the Year award for their innovative dog food and also make a range of treats and are developing puppy foods to add to the range.

Another new award winning product that drew me in was on the Poopod stand. As I seem to spend hours walking round holding a whiffy plastic bag (or two) and fruitlessly searching for a doggy bin this simple idea seems like a Godsend. One simple kit ensures your lead and poo bags are always handily together, and once your dog has done the deed you simply place the used bag inside the scented pod, forming part of the handle, until you find that elusive dog bin, or even to take back home. After returning from that muddy walk you can dip sir’s or madam’s paw in the Paw Plunger, a handy portable gadget that cleans off all that mud before entering the car or house.

There were even edible hide cards, at Reg and Ruby , to send to that special doggy to celebrate major events. These come with their own envelopes so can be posted to favourite canines living further away as well as given to those at home. If all that still wasn’t enough, there were opportunities to have dog portraits painted from life or a photograph, buy equipment for agility, CaniCross, obedience and dog training, stock up on a wide range of pet foods at bargain prices or even treat yourself to new clothes, wellies, hats or bags.

Crufts is definitely the World’s Greatest Dog Show. Just make sure you take plenty of money so you can spoil your favourite friend(s), whether they have won a coveted place on the show bench or wait patiently at home for a tired, but happy human to return laden down with gifts and ready for late night walkies.