Well, at last, the Kennel Club has finally recognised me as a superior sort of chap and, this year, I was invited to Crufts. What took you so long KC? Best in Show: yes, I do believe I am!
‘I don’t want you to feel intimidated by all the posh dogs with quadrupled-barrelled Kennel Club names that we’ll meet,’ Jane told me as our train to the Birmingham NEC chugged through the Home Counties. What nonsense she talks. Intimidated: me? If anyone’s going to feel intimidated it will be the posh dogs – when they see a fine fellow like me strutting around they will throw all the Crufts rosettes they have ever won in the bin, realising that breeding counts for nothing compared to a head that doesn’t match one’s body, a short stump of a tail and irregular markings resembling abstract art. There’s no breeder in all the land who could create a dog like me – Abstract Attlee – even if they spent a century in the attempt.
When we arrived, using the entrance reserved for special dogs – for, according to my ticket, that is what I am – I barked to herald to all the hoity-toity hounds that I was in town.Then I lifted my leg, to underline the fact. (Our friend Basil from www.barkarama.co.uk went one better than this but on that I’ll say no more.)
Then I whizzed past all the posh pups, head held high and stumpy tail a-wagging, as I had an appointment with Caroline Kisco – Kennel Club Secretary, no less – who, hearing I would be gracing Crufts with my presence, wanted to meet me. Very impressed by my pedigree she was too, telling me: ‘The Kennel Club isn’t just Crufts – we work with lots of dog charities including our own breed rescues. And we have Scruffts, our competition for crossbreeds, which is being judged here today.’
Hmmm, a bit less of the Scruff please Caroline – I am a very smart sort of cove. Although Jane and I did take a wander over to where the Scruffts competitors had gathered for a photo-shoot for a nose.
‘Is that Blaze?’ a television cameraman asked when he spotted me, mistaking me for one of the candidates.
‘No I am not,’ I barked straight back at him. Doesn’t he recognise Phileas Dogg when he sees him?
I did have rather a pleasant chat with Gracie, though, who’d won the Scruffts heat for Golden Oldie. And, I heard later, she went on to win the Scruffts overall crown. Good girl Gracie – those tips I gave you for working the camera paid off, then.
Still, that was enough scruff for me – I wanted to see how the other half lived so I visited the Samsung stand, where there was a kennel worth £20,000. That is the sort of money that boggles a little dog’s brain!
The kennel was the oddest construction I’d ever seen – bright white, like an igloo which one of my Husky chums might inhabit, with a sleeping area, a living area and a garden with a treadmill and a hot tub in it. A treadmill for dog’s sake – I get all the exercise I require chasing squizzels in the park!
No, much as the Dream Doghouse might have had all the mod cons, like a self-service food dispenser operated at the push of a paw, a television, and a button with which I could request room service, it was not for me. I am much happier on Jane’s second hand sofa thank you very much and I can request room service whenever I require it simply by barking at her.
Anyway, I had much bigger fish to fry for I was to have my turn in the Crufts show ring where Meg Purnell-Carpenter, a Crufts judge of 30-years standing, was preparing to hand me the rosette for Best in Show.
But what a disaster – when Meg asked Jane and me to walk around, special dog and handler style, Jane really let me down. There was I: larking around; pulling and biting on my lead; performing a Pagan dance – totally owning the ring with my freestyle display in fact – when Jane hissed at me that I was being naughty. Being naughty – I was throwing some shapes to impress Meg!
‘Stop showing off,’ Jane hissed. Showing off – I was at a dog show! What was I supposed to do but show off? In response to Jane’s unfair criticism I added a final flourish to my display, leaping up at Jane, biting the pocket of her dress and ripping it. Encore please, the crowd roared!
‘He’s a bit naughty,’ Meg frowned. Naughty – I’m a free spirit….
Then: ‘He’s a very clever little dog because he has you totally under control,’ she told Jane. Clever – that’s more like it!
So, was I in with a bark at Best in Show?
‘He’s got a classic terrier face, lovely eyes, excellent teeth and he’s in fine muscular condition. With a little dog like this, it’s all about movement and he moves soundly. And he’s bright – very alert,’ Meg said.
That’s 100 points for me then!
‘So,’ Jane asked, ‘if there was a category at Crufts for Heinz 57 dogs, Attlee would win?’
‘Oh yes,’ Meg said but she was interrupted by the owner of a dog she’d judged in the ring asking earlier what breed of dog I was.
‘This is Attlee and he’s a chimney hound,’ Meg smiled, winking at Jane and me. A chimney hound – so that’s what I am? I like the sound of it.
Oddly, though, Meg didn’t actually hand me the Best in Show trophy.
‘Don’t worry Attlee,’ Jane said. ‘You’ll always be best in show to me.’
- Phileas Phacts: Crufts
- If your scruff wants to enter Scruffts next year, log on to http://www.crufts.org.uk/content/whats-on/scruffts/
- Photographs of Attlee in the show ring are by Andy Biggar; www.andybiggar.com