THE UNDERDOG IN THE DOG SHOW
I have been dreaming about going to Crufts dog show for years. I finally got to see one last year, but all I saw was a 3x3m stand for the whole 3 days, thousands of people walking by and an occasional dog here and there. So much for helping out a “friend”
This year I was hoping to go and enjoy the show simply as myself -Suki The Saluki, a crazy romantic poet from a planet Venus. I really wanted to take my first doggie book of poetry with me, but the editing stage wasn’t finished and I had nothing to show up with. I was so disappointed, but because shows are about showing off, I decided to go anyway and at least show off my crazy taste in fashion. I wouldn’t dare to just walk in there in something boring and ordinary. No! Not me! I ordered a custom made bright yellow t-shirt with Dog Boarding Compare’s logo and a pair of Golden leopard print leggings to go with it. Who is expecting to see a “kitty” in the dog show anyway? I am pretty sure I will be the only one bold and crazy enough to go and face all those wolves
I even put myself through a whole month of vigorous dieting. Yes I have to admit, I am a diet addict. Not that I need to lose any weight, quite the opposite, but unfortunately I do suffer from a terrible “teenage” joke of acne vulgaris. I am not a teenager anymore for goodness sake, I am in my thirties and I shouldn’t put up with such a hormonal nonsense! But as every acne sufferer knows about the laws of the universe those stubborn bumps and lumps have a great sense of humour and a divine timing to mature at the right moment, to make your face completely unpresentable when you need it the least. I was so glad that I had such a crazy outfit so I could simply pretend that’s what everybody is staring at anyway 😀
So here we go, D day is here and I am setting off. There is nothing more adorable than being greeted at the NEC show arena by an ex service dog for blind people. I think his name was Rasco and he was raising some much needed cash for the next generation of those like him – life-changing companions. I had to stop by and say hi and of course threw a few golden coins into his magic charity bucket.
Next on the agenda is to pick up the ticket and show guide to see what’s going on and where. And OMG… there is lots! Where do I even begin?! Welcome to Crufts! It’s mega big!
MEETING THE BREEDS
I decided to start with meeting the breeds and saying hi to the ones I am most fond of. First on the agenda… Who else than a Saluki! Closely followed by a Sausage dog, Mastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Goldie, Labrador, Portuguese Waterdog, Staffy, some really cute Dutch breed whose name I can’t even pronounce yet alone remember …sorry, Whippet, English and Irish Setters, Doberman, Rottweiler, Basset Hound, Dandy Dumont, Cesky Terrier and last but not least cute Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier. I am sorry I didn’t follow the fashion of Frenchies craziness this year Crufts was surrounded with. I don’t even know how it happened but by the time I looked at my watch, 3 hours had already gone!
Ok, next thing on the agenda… Ah Wait … A familiar face of one my clients. I had no Idea they would be at the show! Well apparently they didn’t either What a lovely surprise. I went over for a chat and watched a bit of obedience with them.
Later I decided to execute a mammoth task of walking through the whole 5 halls and let me tell you, with my frequent stops at the stands as well as show rings it surely took forever! By the time I got to the end of the last hall, the show arena I wanted to see was full and with a massive waiting queue forming in front of its entrance, it was a no no. I just didn’t have the time to spare to wait for the arena to reopen so with no chance to get in now or any time soon I took a deep breath, soaked up the disappointment and looked around.
Wow, something unexpected happened I saw somebody’s back with a VSPDT t-shirt on. For those who don’t know VSPDT stands for Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training. Ah great, I promised Shelly, one of the only 8 Victoria Stilwell’s trainers in the UK to come and stop by her stand. Well I am going to wait until this lady who is just ordering her food and being surrounded by gorgeous policemen turns around and I will ask her where I can find Shelley. Ah… Maybe not! It’s the almighty Victoria Stilwell herself! I can’t even believe it or bring myself to move let alone say hi! Who am I? Do you know who she is? I do! But I have never really been one of the annoying people who stop celebrities and distract them from their peace or important work. And not when she is so so pretty, even prettier than on TV! Would I be braver if my face wasn’t a disaster? Probably yes, but it’s too late now anyway, she’s gone by the time I open my mouth. Ah well, I was never much of a salesman, I can’t even sell myself, so how the hell will I sell my book with this kind of attitude? What am I scared of anyway? Well let’s find Shelley the hard way… Looking through the show guide, finding the right hall and the stand, walking my way through the slowly moving crowd of people. Well I finally made my way there and I got to say hi, it was so worth it. I had a really good time chatting with Shelley and getting some insight about the ways I can educate myself further, as I especially love helping dogs to calm down, overcome their fears and phobias. And she pointed me out towards lovely Hannah and her Tellington TTouch training and rehabilitating dogs.
DOG TRAINING OPTIONS
I also got the chance to chat with other dog training program-promoters such as APDT and IMDT. I think APDT will be easier as well as less expensive than VSPDT for me to obtain and without any pressure of such a commitment to take up dog training as a full time occupation. Although I think Victoria Stilwell’s programme is still the very best out there, I have to consider that for somebody like me, with lots of different projects and dreams to fulfil, and who doesn’t obey the usual ways people go about their life, and does not plan on training dogs full time, is probably not the way to go about it. But if you would like to become a full time positive reinforcement dog trainer and have the money to spare I would definitely go and choose Victoria’s one.
Oh wow, just in time to go and watch the Portuguese Water Dog judging, followed by some important networking I have to do regarding my book. I was really surprised how excited people on those stands were when I told them about my written as well as recorded doggie poetry book, as that’s not something you really hear about. So when my book is finally out and trust me, it now seems like forever, but it’s really not that long since I submitted it to the publisher. I will be able to send samples to Our Dogs Online Shop and Equestrian Bookfair, as they are more than happy to sell the book for me. I am just over the moon I found those passionate important people I need at the right time.
Now I have one more hour left to just rummage around and by now I am starving, dehydrated and so tired that I really need to sit down fast at least for a few minutes and have something to eat and drink. There is only one spot left at the table with a lovely couple. And guess what?! They are sausage dog people! I can’t even believe it! So was I the lucky one or were they? They just earned a free copy of my book by just sitting at the right place at the right time! I say it all the time to my clients, It’s all about the timing And I love making people happy, especially sausage people as I was practically brought up by a sausage dog. Well just don’t tell my parents, they might get offended.
And what about Golden Retrievers? I can’t believe I haven’t seen a Team Goldie around anywhere. I am so sad as normally I am such a magnet for them anywhere I go, but luckily there is a great Golden Retriever display team showing off their retrieving skills during the last half an hour of my stay. Wow, this was so much fun to witness and made a great ending to my day.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED ABOUT CRUFTS
And what have I learned about Crufts this year? It’s big! And it’s getting bigger! A lot of it is about humans love of a dog, beauty and money. The industry is huge from something so simple as dog food, treats, toys, accessories, graduating to something more complex such as services, breeding, grooming, fashion, transport, charities, training, education, health care, insurance, rescue dogs, kennels and much much more.
I met some lovely people, dedicated businesses and their representatives willing to chat to me while other more potential customers with much bigger juicy wallets were passing by. I do appreciate their time and passion and I will come back as an online customer to show my support, say thank you and enjoy their wonderful products. I found a few accessories and toys which will make it to Dog Boarding Compare’s toy and accessory of the month.
On the other hand there were other kind of businesses and people driven by the sales, being in it for the money, not having the time to stop and chat and honestly, I don’t blame them. Those shows are insanely expensive and some of the stands don’t even earn enough to cover their show costs. For visitors with no insight about the costs involved it’s hard to believe that with so many potential customers at the show you might not be able to make enough to stay in the plus figures. Sometimes by just being out there and having your business seen by so many is so valuable that you have to be more picky, forget your politeness to some, ignore the ones who are just “window shopping” and recognise and favour those who are willing to pay now if you give them the right kind of attention. An aggressive sale tactic like this, might just make a difference to how much money you will end up with at the end of the day. And in this kind of scenario, you really don’t want to end up in negative figures by wasting your time due to simply chatting to people like me.
So it’s time to say goodbye to the Crufts Dog Show 2016. It’s been a blast and everything I have dreamed of and I already can’t wait for 2017. Goodbye for now and see you next year. Last few kisses and cuddles with lovely Rasco. Bye, bye NEC
This was my personal experience from this year Crufts show. And what was yours?
Yours Suki The Saluki