It is billed as the Greatest Dog Show in the World, Crufts kicks off this week at the NEC on Thursday the 8th of March for four fun filled days…
Those four days will only be fun filled if you have prepared because it can also be exhausting and miserable if you get it wrong!
Whether you are taking a dog or not some things are exactly the same. Footwear for instance, forget the vertiginous heels and go for comfort. While we are on the subject of feet, invest in some cooling foot spray to keep to hand (or foot).
Your preparation if you have dog or dogs entered has already begun weeks before but here are some suggestions for a check list before you set off.
Passes: Sort your passes out before you leave home. Your dog removal passes should be put somewhere you can reach them easily when you join the mass exodus at 4.00 pm, there is nothing like a disgruntled exhibitor who can’t find their pass out!
Food: There is plenty of food available at several outlets at Crufts both in the halls and in the concourse outside of the halls, humans can leave the halls and have their hand stamped (a la 1980’s Disco Night)to enable re entry but dogs cannot use the concourse exits. That said , I object very strongly to overpriced warm pop and second mortgage meals so I would advise you to take your own if possible. You could of course just hang around benches where parties are going on and steal a handful of twiglets.
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Moving Around: If you are unlucky enough to be showing on Saturday or Sunday then expect crowds. The map of Crufts is a horseshoe shape so if you are dog less take advantage of leaving one entrance and re enter further up, because there are always bottlenecks. The activity rings in Hall 3 are very popular and the foot traffic slows to a shuffle here, if you go deeper into the hall you meet the crowds from Discover Dogs so there is no escape! If you have to move a dog through the halls and it is a bit too big to carry…so that’s really anything bigger than a Chihuahua really, then try and walk as a pair with someone else and put the dog/s between you to offer them some protection from the lemming crowd. Use the guide or the catalogue to decide where you want to go before you set off, you can waste a lot of energy just walking a few hundred yards in crowded areas. Try to remain patient, not all people at Crufts are used to a dog show but they are dog lovers and trying to have a good day out too. This is very important around those with physical or mental disability; just remember you could ruin their day by impatience or rudeness. They have to go at the pace they can manage.
Crufts Throat: Everybody gets the Crufts Throat if they are there for more than one day. The air is very dry and the only way to ensure you don’t suffer the next day is drink plenty, by which I mean WATER. Hot water only is available in the Toilets but they always mark up the janitor’s room alongside the toilets, where you can access cold water for your dogs if you haven’t taken your own. There are Bars in all halls of the NEC if you are prepared to pay event prices so if you intend to drown your sorrows, make sure you have deep pockets.
Benching: Your dog is going to spend a very long day mostly on his bench so please make sure you take sufficient cushioning for him. Chairs are in short supply with many chairs tied together at ringside to stop exhibitors removing them so consider taking your own. Make friends with the person beside you on the benches, this means you can both watch each other’s possessions, Crufts always attracts thieves. It isn’t enough to simply push your valuables under the bench as you might at another Champ show. By making sure those around you recognise you with your dog they will be suspicious if any one else starts rooting through your stuff.
Car Parking: I really am not sure how the NEC can justify the ridiculous parking fees for what is usually a muddy, wet patch of badly laid concrete and stones, however they do and we all pay up. REMEMBER WHERE YOU PARKED THE CAR. If you decide not to use the service buses it is likely to be a long walk to your hall entrance so leave yourself plenty of time and even though you will be loaded up like a Sherpa your dog’s safety is still paramount so double check any leads or collars before the day. Make sure you have poo bags that you can get to easily as searching for them is frustrating when you feel the urge to join the crowd and get in as quickly as possible
Wi-Fi: The NEC does offer free wifi, your device may not connect automatically, make sure you know how to direct your device to a server.
Chucking Out Time: ….and …they’re off! Consider if you want to be champing at the bit as the minutes tick by for removals or whether sitting in a queue for the motorway can wait an hour or so. Making a decision gives you control and should help to make you feel calmer.
Most importantly , Enjoy your day!