Last week I had the opportunity to visit Crufts for the first time ever.
I’m doing some work for a photography company called Venture who take the most amazing family portraits, but also specialise in incredible photos of pets. So we had an exhibition stand at Crufts, where one of our top photographers was on hand to shoot the dogs. When I say shoot, I don’t mean shoot exactly.
Well you know what I mean.
I’d never visited the show before but I have to say I loved it. It was amazing to see so many dogs in one place and to meet some of the owners who were showing their dogs. What was most extraordinary though was the size of the exhibition space at the NEC in Birmingham. It was vast. Hundreds and hundreds of exhibitors were selling the most incredible range of pet related paraphernalia. There were collars and leads, baskets, a gastronomic variety of dog food, health supplements, puppy paintings, greetings cards, pooper scoopers and much more. And of course there were the dog clothes.
Some sensible, hard wearing items to keep your dog warm and some, if I may say, slightly more ridiculous outfits that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an LA Chihuahua being carried by some wannabe movie star in her equally ridiculous handbag!
But there were also other more unexpected exhibitors: everything from clothes (for humans that is), handbags, jewellery and for some reason a plethora of hair accessories stands. (Do dog owners have particularly unruly hair?) There was also a very large stand from Samsung and
unless I’m very much mistaken they’re not renowned for their pet products. Maybe they’re bringing out a new smart phones for smart dogs? All these exhibitors were clearly there for when the pet owners had decided they’d spent enough on their pampered pooches and decided to treat themselves instead. However, there were a few stands that I studiously avoided. One described itself as a ‘Laboratory for DNA testing’ and one offered ‘Biocomfort massage cyclotherapy for humans and dogs’. They both scared the hell out of me.
So I did look round the show but really didn’t have time to see everything. The best bit was meeting some of the dogs being shown there - gorgeous, beautifully behaved animals, big and small, all so happy to be petted and admired. There were so many that I loved that I started metamorphosising into Cruella De Ville and had to stop myself leaving the NEC with several cute pups stuffed into my over large handbag!
The thing is, as you might have gathered, I completely love dogs but as I’ve mentioned in this column before, I’m sadly not able to have one myself. It’s hard enough getting Molly and I through life every day without adding another live being into the equation, and with my rather varied work routine, it just wouldn’t be fair on the dog. I am lucky though that my sister, who also lives here in Ealing, does have a wonderful dog, a Standard Schnauzer called Hector (who is to all intents and purposes, my nephew). So Molly and I are able to get our dog fix regularly through him and we can often be found walking round Pitshanger or Gunnersbury Park with Hector and his doggie friends.
So why do we love dogs so much? There are so many reasons but one of my favourites is one that writer Jerome K Jerome wrote. He said that we love dogs because: ‘They never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation.’ Maybe if we had human beings around us who behaved that way, we wouldn’t need the friendship of our four legged friend!
NOTE TO SELF: They’re not only a man’s, they are everybody’s best friend.