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Tag: crufts

One-eyed dog charms crowd at Crufts

A purebred flat-coated retriever won best in show, but it was a one-eyed mutt named Dudley, and his dazzling performance in an agility contest, that won over the crowd at Crufts — the pretentious, I mean presitigious, UK dog show that concluded this past weekend.

Dudley, a six-year-old Lhasa apso-pug mix who lost his eye as a pup, and later was given up by his owners,  won an official Crufts rosette for his performance in the agility ring, beating out other rescued dogs in the competition, according to the Southern Daily Echo.

While we’ve been known to poke fun at purebred dog shows, it’s good to see them — on both sides of the pond — opening things up to mixed breeds, like Dudley. And, if  the crowd reaction to him is any sign, it’s something they should do a lot more of.

“He was definitely the crowd’s favorite and got a huge cheer as he ran round,” Dudley’s owner, Lara Alford, from Southampton, said. “Over the last few days he has had so many admirers – he’s probably been one of the most photographed dogs at Crufts this year.”

Dudley had his right eye removed as a puppy because of an infection. At 14 months, his owners surrendered him at an animal adoption shelter.

Alford, shortly after adopting him, noticed his speed and maneuverability and began training him in agility. As they run the courses, she always stays on his left side, so he can see her.

At Crufts, the training paid off.  “It was one of the fastest rounds Dudley’s ever done,” she said.

More than 21,000 dogs vied for honors at Crufts, which opened Thursday. In the best-in-show competition, Jet, a flat-coated retriever, beat out a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, a German shepherd, a boxer, a wire fox terrier, a standard poodle and a bichon frise.

Tiger Woods has nothing on Yogi

YogiStep aside Tiger Woods, Jesse James, even Wilt Chamberlain. You’ve got nothing on Yogi, the Hungarian vizsla who won best in show at Britain’s prestigious Crufts competition this year.

The  champion Aussie show dog has fathered 525 puppies  in the five years since he emigrated to the UK. That’s well over 100 pups a year and, records show, more than 10 percent of all vizsla puppies registered.

Yogi, you dog you.

The impressive/shameful statistics were gathered by Jemima Harrison, who prepared the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, and who says — though we joke somewhat about Yogi”s rampant sex life  – they should raise serious concerns about his growing gene pool dominance.

“Yogi is an absolutely beautiful dog who deserved to win,”  Harrison said. “However, the concern is that this dog has been massively overused as a stud dog already … As far as the breed is concerned it’s a genetic time bomb.”

Even England’s Hungarian Vizsla Club is worried about Yogi, who is already grandfather to 340 pups and great grandfather to 10 pups, according to a report carried in The Herald Sun in Australia.

“When you lessen the gene pool you open the breed up to the possibility of auto-immune-related diseases,” said a club spokeswoman.

Yogi earns up to $1,230 per litter, and has fathered 79 registered litters in the UK up to December last year. With his Crufts victory, his stud fee and demand for his studly services can only be expected to increase.

With so many of his pups out there, it’s no surprise there is a Facebook page, called “I have a Yogi vizsla,” dedicated to his offspring.

Hungarian Vizsla wins best in show at Crufts

YogiOut of 22,000 dogs from 187 breeds, a Hungarian Vizsla named Yogi was chosen as Best in Show at Crufts.

The seven-year-old beat off competition from six other dogs in the finale of the four-day show.

Yogi is the first Hungarian Vizsla to win Best in Show, the BBC reported.

Handler John Thirlwell said his “wonderful dog” from Carlisle, Cumbria, will likely retire after the win.

Earlier in the show, during judging of the Gundog category, which Yogi won,  a streaker interrupted the proceedings.

The dog show was broadcast on More4 this year after the BBC – which had shown Crufts since 1966 – announced it was dropping its coverage in 2008.

That decision followed a BBC documentary which claimed Crufts allowed damaging breeding practices that caused disease and deformities. Welfare concerns also prompted the RSPCA to withdraw its support in 2008.

Skinniest in show: It’s Hatch!

hatch at cruftsLikely the oldest dog to ever appear at Crufts — and probably one of few mutts ever allowed entry – the skeleton of a sea dog named Hatch is on display at the prestigous UK dog show before heading to her forever home.

Hatch — a mongrel, believed to have been about two years old — died in 1545 when her ship, the Mary Rose, sank in the Solent Channel.

After Crufts, she’ll return to the south coast for display at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth.

The dog was likely assigned to catch rats aboard the ship, a common practice at the time because cats were believed to bring bad luck.

According to experts, the formation of her skeleton suggests that she spent almost all of her life confined to the ship’s smallest and darkest areas.

mary-roseThe Mary Rose, the flagship of Henry VIII, sank in 1545 at the Battle of the Solent. Artifacts including clothing, jewelry, furniture, musical instruments, medical equipment and weapons were discovered when the vessel was raised in 1982.

The bones of Hatch were found on board the ship, near a hatch door that led to the carpenter’s cabin, the BBC reported. Staff at the Mary Rose Trust reconstructed her bones, and came up with her name.

John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said: “Expert analysis of Hatch’s bones suggests that she spent most of her short life within the close confines of the ship … It is likely that the longest walks she took were along the quayside at Portsmouth, her home town.”

The animal’s skeleton  and will go on display March 26 at the Mary Rose Museum at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. A new museum to house the Mary Rose Collection is scheduled to open in 2012, and will display the preserved hull of the ship.

Report calls for changes in breeding practices

An independent investigation launched after a BBC documentary raised concerns about purebred breeding practices concludes the health of many animals is being put at risk by some breeders.

Britain’s Kennel Club and Dogs Trust funded the inquiry, which looked at puppy farms, inbreeding, and breeding for extreme features.

Cambridge University professor Sir Patrick Bateson, who is president of the Zoological Society of London, said the report concludes that conditions of some puppy farms was “not good” and “probably in breach of the Animal Welfare Act”.

Also, the report says, some  breeders were responsible for “too much” inbreeding, creating “all sorts of health problems,” such as the “very big head of the bulldog” that necessitated about 90% of them giving birth through Caesarian section, according to the BBC.

The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust funded the independent inquiry after concerns highlighted in the 2008 BBC documentary, “Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” which reported that breeders, in an attempt to meet Kennel Club standards and win dog shows, exaggerated the features of breeds at the expense of dogs’ health.

The BBC report, which led the Royal SPCA to pull out of Crufts, said many physical traits called for by the Kennel Club’s breed standards, such as short faces and dwarfism, led to inherent health problems.

The Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, changed many of its breed standards in January 2009 to exclude ”anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog breathing, walking and seeing freely.”

Specific changes included calling for leaner, less wrinkly bulldogs; shortening the forelegs of German shepherds which, through breeding, had gotten overly long and weak; and less fluffy coats on chow chows so they wouldn’t become distressed in hot weather.

Judges at licensed dog shows were instructed to choose only the healthiest dogs as champions, and expel any dogs that showed signs of ill-health from the Crufts show.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed” gets first U.S. airing

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed, ” the controversial BBC documentary that shed some much needed light on purebred breeding practices and the horrors they have produced, will get its first airing in the U.S. tonight (Dec. 10).

Probably the single most important piece of dog reporting in the past decade, the documentary led to the BBC dropping its coverage of Crufts, the UK’s equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show.

The documentary looks at how many breeds have had their physical appearance so exaggerated they’re unrecognizable from a century ago, and it examines some of the breed-specific health problems that have resulted from breeders emphasizing looks over health when breeding dogs for shows.

The show, which led to some changes in Kennel Club and breeder policies and practices,  airs at 8 p.m. tonight on BBC America.

The documentary revealed that dogs suffering from genetic illness are not prevented from competing in dog shows and have gone on to win “best in breed”, despite their poor health. It says physical traits required by the Kennel Club’s breed standards in the U.K., such as short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails and dwarfism, have led to inherent health problems.

This excerpt from the program shows a prize-winning cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition which occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain.

The documentary looks at other problems that have resulted from mating dogs who are close relatives, all for the purposes of accentuating certain physical features deemed desirable by the dog show crowd — boxers suffering from epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs who are unable to mate or give birth unassisted because their heads are so big.

While picked up here and there by the U.S. media, the story of shaping purebred dogs to fit arbitrary human standards of beauty — despite the health ramifications – remains best told by the BBC documentary. By all means, watch it.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed” deemed mostly fair

Ofcom — the UK’s equivalent to our FCC — has ruled that the controversial BBC documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” was mostly fair, but didn’t give Kennel Club officials a chance to fully respond to all of the allegations it made.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” which is receiving its first U.S. airing tonight, alleged that events such as the Crufts dog show awarded top prizes to unhealthy and inbred animals and encouraged breeders to place appearance above health concerns.

The Ofcom ruling was in response to complaints by the Kennel Club, according to The Guardian.

Ofcom said that the way the film was edited was fair and that the Kennel Club was not, as it claimed, deceived about its purpose.” However, it added, the Kennel Club was “not given a proper opportunity to respond to an allegation about eugenics and a comparison with Hitler and the Nazi Party, or an allegation that it covered up the nature of an operation carried out on a Crufts Best in Show winner”.

The Kennel Club made complaints about the program in five areas. Ofcom — here’s the full ruling — rejected complaints in four of these areas stating that there was “no unfairness.”

Only the Kennel Club’s fifth complaint was deemed somewhat valid. The Kennel Club said it was not given an appropriate opportunity to respond to 15 specific allegations, and Ofcom agreed that was in the case for four of the 15.

In one of those, Jeff Sampson, the Kennel Club’s senior scientific adviser and spokesman, “was not given the chance to show how seriously he took the health problems confronting pedigree dogs,” Ofcom said.

The BBC said it stood by the program. “While we note Ofcom’s findings regarding some aspects of Pedigree Dogs Exposed, we stand firmly by the programme, which was clearly in the public interest, and we stand firmly by its conclusions,” said a spokesman for the BBC.

“The broadcast has accelerated unprecedented reform in the way pedigree dogs are bred, including new limits on inbreeding, changes to the written standards of 78 breeds of dog and a new code of ethics which prohibits the culling of puppies for cosmetic reasons,” he added.

Simon Cowell shows his soft side

Who’da thunk it? American Idol’s Simon Cowell, prone to snarling at young and hopeful humans, is a PETA-certified animal lover.

Not being a close follower of his extra-curricular activities, I didn’t know Cowell has loaned his unexplainable celebrity to campaigns against wearing fur, for spaying and neutering, and cautioning against leaving dogs in hot cars.

Leave it to PETA to straighten me out.

Here are some excerpts of a recent interview PETA had with Cowell:

On mutts:

“…If I was buying a dog, I wouldn’t buy it from a pet shop, I’d go to a rescue shelter … It’s not where the dog came from, it’s the dog. … I get really annoyed when people start telling me about the make and the model of their dog like (it was a) car … A dog is a dog, no matter what background they’ve got … Often, the mutts, the strays have got more personality than a highly bred pedigree.

On dogs as accessories:

Well, I think the fashion accessory thing has become quite the thing here. You’ve got the rap and pop stars carrying around the highly bred dogs …. They think it’d be embarrassing to be seen carrying a mutt … when actually it would be endearing — people would think they cared more about the dog than their image.

On Bobama:

I think we’ve got to be balanced on this…I think it’s nice that they have made an issue of buying a dog for the kids. What I think would be great would be if they also took in a shelter dog, just from anywhere, to balance it. I’ll even pay for the dog food!

On dog shows:

Well, again, I have two thoughts about them, because I think the vast majority of people who go and watch something like Crufts or who are involved are animal lovers, not animal haters. The problem (in the U.K. at least) is that we have elitism in the dog world, which does bother me, for who’s to say what makes the perfect dog?

Yeah, dawg. The nerve. What gives those dog show judges the right to put contestants through the hoops and then sit back in judgment?

For Cowell’s full remarks, visit The PETA Files blog.

Charmin rolls to victory at Crufts

A Sealyham Terrier from Chester County, Pa., was named best in show at Crufts today.

Margery Good, owner of the four-year-old dog, named Charmin, said she was “very excited and very pleased” to have won, according to a BBC report.

Ms. Good added: “He’s such a special dog. He is my best buddy. He proved himself tonight and made every step just right.”

With the awarding of best in show, the four-day event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, tainted by controversy this year, came to a close. The RSPCA and sponsor Pedigree pulled out of partnerships with the dog show, following claims about breeding malpractice in a BBC documentary.

But thousands of spectators attended the four-day event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, About 28,000 dogs were estimated to have attended the show, the third highest figure since the show was founded in 1891.

The Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, broadcast the event live on the internet for the first time, and predicted that visitor numbers would match last year’s record crowd of 160,000.

Crufts was hit by controversy after the BBC screened a documentary last year which exposed serious health issues around breeding practices for some breeds of pedigree dogs.

The BBC suspended its coverage of the show pending further investigations and a key sponsor also pulled out.

Charmin, whose win was just the latest of many, is also featured in the video below, which explains a little more about the breed. Sealyhams are not as popular today as the breed once was. In the first half of the 20th Century, Sealyhams were owned by Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton and Alfred Hitchcock, who used his own Sealyhams in the movies “The Birds” and “Suspicion.”

The Sealyham Terrier was named by its original breeder, Captain Edwardes, after his mansion, Sealyham, near the Sealy river in Pembrokeshire, South Wales

Closely watched Crufts show starts next week

The London Times reports that judges at the prestigious but beleaguered Crufts dog show next week will be keeping a sharp eye out for any unhealthy animals as part of a campaign by Britain’s Kennel Club to lift the show’s tarnished image.

The club was badly damaged when the BBC One documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” was broadcast last summer, followed by the network’s decision to scrap its coverage of the show after 42 years. The program was critical of club breeding standards that it said created dogs with diseases and deformities.

The club has since issued new breed standards that place more of a priority on health, less on appearance, and it has enlisted a team of vets and monitors to be on the lookout during the show for breeds deemed to be at risk from health problems, including the basset hound, bulldog, mastiff, pug and shar-pei.

Judges, meanwhile, have been told to ban dogs if they shows signs of sickness, lameness, shortness of breath or aggression.

“We all think dog shows are under threat,” said Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club. “There is a view among some animal welfare groups like the RSPCA that dog shows are bad … We have to get across that showing dogs is about improving the health of dogs and ensuring they have a good temperament.”

Kisko said Passionate Productions, which made the documentary, won’t be given a press pass to the event. “We see Crufts as a big celebration of dogs and we don’t want them there spoiling our day — and I don’t think breed people would be pleased to see them there.”

The show opens next Thursday, and the Kennel Club is expecting about 160,000 visitors to see 28,000 dogs over the four days.

While it won’t be aired on BBC, Crufts will be shown on a live webcast at www.cruftslive.tv.

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