Crufts Online

Crufts, the world’s most prestigious dog show, begins yesterday. This year however it won’t be on television.

The BBC and The Kennel Club fell out following the controversial documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, broadcast on BBC One last August. It featured shocking footage, such as film of a King Charles Spaniel which was in intense pain because its brain was too big for its skull. The main thrust of the documentary was that The Kennel Club promote physical distortions that are unacceptably cruel to the dogs involved.

Following the broadcast the 40 year relationship between the BBC and with the Kennel Club fell apart. The Kennel Club lodged a complaint with the regulators and following the subsequent public outcry the BBC decided not to screen this year’s event claiming that the Kennel Club breed-standard requirements for 14 breeds are so unacceptable they shouldn’t be in the competition at all.

It was a public relations nightmare, the RSPCA and other dog welfare organisations withdrew their support, dog food makers Pedigree withdrew their sponsorship. However The Kennel Club refused to roll-over, although it did tighten up some of their rules on welfare.

The Kennel Club have responded to the lack of coverage by embracing the internet, and via the Crufts Live website people from all around the world can watch free live streaming video of the events taking place throughout the four days of competition this year, as well as a video on demand pay-for-view service.

It appears that the Kennel Club have fairly modest targets expecting around 100,000 people to use the service compared to 4.3 million viewers who tuned in to last year’s televised final. This year David Stranks, head of new media at Sunset + Vine, the company responsible for the online coverage has been quoted as saying: “If the site gets anything like those numbers, The Kennel Club will be over the moon.”

After watching some of the coverage yesterday I actually think the withdrawal of the BBC might actually be good for Crufts, the BBC coverage was often criticised for being banal and concentrated on the presenters rather than the competition. It focused mainly on the ‘breed’ competitions and there was almost no coverage of the other competitions such as Flyball and Agility which have a massive following draw huge crowds.

The online service allows coverage throughout every day, from 8.30am, and they are showing all the Flyball, Agility, Obedience and Heal Work competitions and demonstrations throughout the day from the main arena. I compete at Dog Agility and can say the response on certain forums and chatboards has been very positive about the expanded coverage of the sport.

Caroline Kisko, a spokesman for the Kennel Club has said “For the future we will be looking at all the different options; we haven’t decided which way to go yet. Broadcast TV undoubtedly reaches more homes, but I think the web will be a big part of whatever we do in the future.”

Basil gets his first rosette!

Boris's Rosette
Before Dog Agility took over our weekends (and pretty much most of our spare time) we used to be active in the Crossbreed and Mongrel Club The CMC was set up by dedicated non-pedigree dog owners who wanted a club that appreciated the uniqueness of their own type of dog and that recognised they are something to be proud of and neither inferior nor superior to pedigrees but equally loving, fun to own and useful in their own right. I created and maintained the original website and also produced the clubs newsletter for many years.

This Sunday we were uncharacteristically free and there was a CMC show on in Tattershall Lincolnshire. So we decided to reacquaint ourselves with old friends and take the dogs out for a bit of fun. Basil the new boy still has many hang-ups and behavioural idiosyncrasies so we thought a bit of socialisation might help him. Last weekend he went to a BAA agility show as a spectator and seemed to enjoy himself.

Central to the CMC is the SCAMPS competition. SCAMPS (Supreme Crossbreed and Mongrel Petdog Show) is held annually where the winners of all ‘SCAMPS’ Heats held around the country that year compete for the title of ‘Crossbreed and Mongrel Club Supreme Champion’. The heats consists of four classes, best dog, best bitch under and over 18 inches in height, the four winners are then judged together to decide on the heat winner.

So anyway, we entered Charlie (handled by the wife, pictured below), Boris (handled by a friend Sue) and Basil (handled by yours truly) in the Best dog under 18 inches class. Charlie won! and to my surprise Basil got 6th (there were about 15 dogs in the heat) Basil was very calm, allowed the judge to examine him without complaint and even made a passable effort to walk around the ring properly (unlike Boris who was a bit of handful for Sue)

Charlie and Ros

Charlie looking pleased with himself
Charlie didn’t get anywhere in the final part of the heat, he is pictured above with the wife (the eagle eyed of you can spot Boris, Basil, Fred and Toby looking on in the back of the Nissan X-Trail in the top left)

The dogs were entered in various classes thoughout the day. Boris got fifth place in “most appealing eyes”, Charlie was second in “best condition coat”, poor old Fred got nothing and Toby spent all day asleep in the back of the car! Charlie and Boris also got places in the fastest recall, Boris impressing everyone by not having someone hold him but sitting and waiting while I walked the 25 yards or so down the course and then recalled him!

Basil

Basil at Play

Basil (pictured above) really enjoyed and behaved himself and slept like a log when we got home. He was completely at ease and as you can see he is alert but ignores other dogs including a Rhodesian Ridgeback walking close by in the following videos.