Crufts 2019: Work dogs on show at Birmingham NEC
The Black Country was on show at Crufts as some of the hardest working jobs showed off their skills.
Thousands of businesses and dog lovers made the annual pilgrimage to Birmingham's NEC arena for the first day of the canine event on Thursday.
The event is running until Sunday with dozens of performances and competitions on show for spectators.
Alongside the glitz and glamour of the most pampered canines, some of the most impressive work dogs were on hand to amaze audiences on the first day of Crufts.
A team of officers from West Midlands Police took to the stage as they showed off the intelligence of their dogs.
Some of their German shepherd dogs showcased how they take down potentially threatening criminals, while a sprocker spaniel, a cross between a springer spaniel and cocker spaniel, revealed how he sniffed out items, that in the real world would be guns and drugs.
Amongst them was 14-week-old Belgian malinois Pancho with trainer PC Gareth Taylor.
PC Taylor is based in Bloxwich, Walsall, as part of the E-Unit with Force Response.
The pair showed off how they train puppies in the force's scheme to prepare dogs for real-world policing.
PC Taylor said: “We’re here to represent the police, our stand gives the police some publicity.
“This is my fourth year volunteering at Crufts, it’s a really enjoyable four days to engage with the public.
“I use my annual leave to come here, it’s enjoyable to come out and speak to people who you wouldn’t normally speak to on the street.
“It’s all about community work, that’s how we’re based, so it’s a good way of giving back to the community and showing people what the dog unit does.
“Everything from our puppy scheme and working dogs we use on the street, property work, searching for drugs and thinks like that.
“They’re incredibly essential, dogs can clear an area quicker than we can, they’re worth at least 10 bobbies.
“Our dog unit is massively underfunded nationally and we need more out there."
On another stand people could find Mark Doggett, from Penn, in Wolverhampton, who works with Milton Keynes-based charity Medical Detection Dogs.
They train dogs to do one of two jobs, either a medical alert assistance dog that can help alert people to conditions they may have, such as diabetes, or a bio-detection dog, that helps to improve early diagnosis of diseases such as cancer.
Mark, aged 32, was joined by 18-month-old labrador Jodie, who works in the latter of the two positions.
He said: “We’re a charity that trains medical assistance dogs, that alert people to conditions they aren’t aware of, and then bio-detection where dogs are trained to detect diseases or infections, which is what Jodie works on.
“It’s my sixth or seventh year at Crufts, it’s important for us to raise awareness and money for the charity.
“People who need our dogs can become aware of what we can offer them.
“The dogs are incredibly intelligent and save lives every day.”