Crufts 2017: Pooches to set tails wagging at Birmingham's NEC
It's the world's biggest dog show – and it's back.
Crufts – the Oscars of the canine world – returns later this week, featuring cute, cuddly and sometimes bizarre looking dogs.
Dog lovers from across the Black Country and Staffordshire will be flocking to Birmingham's NEC this weekend in their masses.
Around 22,000 dogs from across the world, as well as 150,000 dog lovers, will turn out for the show, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary.
And now hundreds of dog owners across the Black Country are putting the final preparations together ready for the show-stopping event which takes place from Thursday to Sunday.
The four-day event, which covers 25 acres at the NEC, will see the UK's most heroic dogs rewarded in the prestigious Eukanuba Friends for Life competition; the nation's favourite crossbreeds compete in the Crufts grand final; the world's most athletic canines battling it out in dog sports such as agility, and the prestigious Best in Show competition.
Hundreds of dogs from the Black Country are having their last-minute pamper ready for their turn in the spotlight.
A former veterinary nurse from Codsall, Anna Ellis-Khanna is getting her three-year-old Great Dane, Margot, who goes by the show name of Raven Dane maleficent for Harvaxe, ready for the event.
Margot will be appearing in the Great Dane show ring but 40-year-old Anna is still nervous for the event despite attending a number of shows because it's the 'biggest dog event in the world'.
She said: "This will be the third time Margot is appearing at the show.
"She's taken part in so many challenges and competed for so many awards but I still have butterflies because Crufts is the biggest dog event in the world.
"It's a huge achievement to be able to show your dog there but it's even bigger because it's on home turf."
She added: "With a show dog you have to have a special bond with them to be able to train them and get them to perform."
"Margot came to us as a pet and if she wasn't happy to become a show dog and train then we wouldn't have gone ahead but now we've spent hours teaching her and she loves it.
"We've taken her to shows in Ireland and around the UK but the next step is to take her around the world to compete."
Crowds at the event will come to meet the thousands of dogs, watch live events, speak to breed and health experts, and shop at trade stands over the course of the weekend. Dawn Sambrook, from Oldbury, is also preparing for the event with her dog Monty, a Boston terrier, for the second year running.
The 57-year-old said: "I entered Monty, who goes by the show name of Talkaccatur Huritt, last year for the first time and he came third in his group out of around 15 other dogs.
"I do get quite nervous still though as it's all quite new to me compared to other people I'm up against who have been doing it for years. Monty is a natural little dog and he loves to be in front of a camera. Once the show collar is on, he knows what's happening and what to do. He loves it.
"I bought him specifically to get him ready to become a show dog but in all honesty I haven't had to do much training with him at all.
"I do all sorts including working with rescue dogs – I'm just a general doggy person."
Shih Tzu breeder Suzanne Conway, of Upper Gornal, will be showing Horace and Stara, who are both aged nine months.
She has high hopes for the young pair and would love to follow her success in 2015 when she won the breeders competition.
The 49-year-old health and safety consultant, who has been competing at the event since 2012, said: "To qualify for Crufts is such an honour in itself.
"It's always an exciting, full-on day. I'm very much looking forward to it and I am keeping my fingers crossed."
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