The British public took 17-year-old Ashleigh Butler and her beloved Pudsey – who has been described as a Border Collie/Chinese Crested/Bichon Frisé cross – to their hearts when they first appeared on the popular television show Britain’s Got Talent which they eventually won, scooping a £500,000 prize and endless opportunities. Clearly favoured by the programme’s mastermind Simon Cowell, the duo were flown to Hollywood and allegedly signed up by a management company, presumably on Mr Cowell’s advice.
Now the two have been seen to be fronting the latest campaign launched by PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – which draws attention to the alleged cruelty meted out to circus animals. The poster featuring them was seen in DOG WORLD last week. PETA is a very wealthy American-based organisation with a knack for associating itself with celebrities who automatically attract great publicity. Clearly Ashleigh and Pudsey are considered ‘hot property’ and have quickly become as popular in the US as they were here at home. I am sure that Ashleigh agreed to lend her weight to this campaign with the best of intentions and will doubtlessly have been shown very convincing evidence which encouraged her to help abused circus animals in any way she could.
It does concern me however that her management might not have researched what they believed to be a truly worthy cause more thoroughly. They may have been blissfully unaware that PETA members have in the past attempted to disrupt both Crufts and Westminster with their demonstrations. Their strong views on the ‘imprisonment’ of animals are well known and they claim: "Crating began as a way for people who participate in dog shows to keep their dogs clean, but they did not take into account their dogs’ social, physical, and psychological needs.”
Although the Kennel Club has not confirmed the suggestion, it has been rumoured that YKC member Ashleigh and Pudsey were to replace popular Mary Ray at Crufts, however a KC statement was issued saying: "There has been some misunderstanding about the Heelwork to Music at Crufts 2013. We can confirm that Mary Ray will continue to feature, in the best in show night programme. Everything else in the programme is still to be confirmed.”
What bothers me is the hypocrisy of an organisation that can jump on the bandwagon of a young girl with hopes, dreams and good intentions while saying openly on its website "PETA is determined to get animals out of the entertainment business forever.”
If Crufts does invite Ashleigh and Pudsey to Crufts next year I hope they will be prepared for some unwanted visitors too.
What can I say about Blackpool other than I feel nothing but sympathy for the Hall family, the entire committee and show team, and of course the exhibitors who lost hard-earned cash through the show’s inevitable cancellation?
I have judged regularly for the society, several times at its splendid own showground and having Standard Poodles, Afghan Hounds and Boxers as part of my assignment this year I was so looking forward to being able to move the dogs extensively in Blackpool’s huge well-tended grass rings. Sadly it was not to be. However we made the best of it on Friday when I was judging Standards and then Norwich Terriers. I take my hat off to the Poodle people who brought their dogs into the muddy ring in pristine condition; they deserved a medal. Obviously I couldn’t get as much movement as I would have liked but saw enough to make my decisions.
The BOB winning Standard first appeared as a single entry in the junior dog class which he won, despite sporting a somewhat over-lacquered topknot. I asked his handler if she would ensure that it was all brushed out before she returned for the challenge and she complied with my request, returning with a much more natural and impressive looking male, so Somanic Style By Design at Clanese won what was apparently his second CC and BOB, Marita Rodgers having awarded his first at WELKS. He is a real stallion male with great style and carriage and should sail through to his title. I was happy to watch what he was capable of in the group ring where Dan Ericsson shortlisted him.
Reserve to him was the post graduate winner, another bred by the brilliant Spaniard, Carlos Fernandez Renau, and with a characteristically unpronounceable name – Del Zarzoso Mienteme Otra Vez at Namkia – a brilliant white who just lost out to the black BOB winner on rear angulation.
In bitches I fell hook, line and sinker for the junior bitch, Afterglow I Should Coco for Tolpi, a feminine black with all the style in the world, but she gave me the impression that she needed the outdoor ring to really give of her best and she wasn’t as maturely bodied as the bitch who beat her for the CC, Afterglow Senorita Pitfour, whose third it was. I loved her correctness and lack of exaggeration and she made the best of the conditions.
Best of the puppies was the cream male, Afterglow White Tiger, another who has an inherent style about him.
The Norwich followed and obviously were more at home in the conditions. The day proved to be a clean sweep for dogs bred by Lesley Crawley and owned by other people – the mark of a great breeder is that they are prepared to sell top quality dogs for other people to win with. BOB went to the black and tan limit dog, Ragus The Devil Can Wait for Lastarean, though I cannot imagine him waiting too long for his title as he exudes breed type and cobbiness, has a great head, sturdy body, excellent bite and is sound.
Reserve to him also won BP, Ragus Now And Forever, a cracking youngster who had edged ahead of Ragus Mayfair Morning to take best puppy. She too had won the reserve CC, beaten by another lovely red, Ragus Takes The Biscuit, whose handler told me that she had won BP and the RCC at Crufts under Peter Green no less. It was first CCs for both dog and bitch but I am sure they will both finish their titles easily. I was delighted to later see Gerrard Morris shortlist the Norwich in his very strong terrier group.
When I woke the following morning the sun was shining but friends on the showground assured me that underfoot confirmed that Steve Hall had made the right decision. Next year Blackpool surely deserves some good luck.
Alan Rountree’s unhappiness with my commenting on the Kennel Club’s AGM has been well covered by other correspondents. All I will say is that if some of his remarks represented the feelings of other General Committee members, then we ‘show’ people are in bigger trouble than I thought we were!