My dogs are rubbish – a couple of naughty mutts that bring nothing but shame to the canine world.
So it is with a certain amount of masochism that we’ll be watching Crufts when it gets under way this time next week.
Perfect specimens, immaculately turned out, with impeccable manners – and that’s just the handlers – we end up feeling totally inadequate by the time the show champion is announced on the Sunday.
Each evening, we sit spellbound, barely able to believe that our two beasts are the same species as those being paraded around the ring.
Having said that, we’ve grown very fond our two (in a love/hate sort of way) and we wouldn’t be without them.
Both of our dogs – Olive and Janet – had shaky starts.
Olive – actually my daughter’s dog, but ours while she’s at university – was bought via an internet ad (I know, I know), where she was loosely described as a Jack Russell.
She was a miserable little scrap and, five years later, still is. How a dog with so little hair can get fleas so often is totally beyond me. She’s been dowsed in more chemicals than a WMD and combed incessantly, but still the horrible little critters return.
Janet – now a venerable and rather leaky 10 years old – came from a small sanctuary. She was ‘rescued’ after it’d been realised she wasn’t quite the pure-bred border collie that had been expected – working sheep dog mum had got a bit frisky with the old farm dog, a foxhound.
She’s a lovely dog but has been a complete disaster when it comes to training. Despite being told she was the cleverest dog in the puppy class we went to, we’ve failed miserably to teach her anything.
She’s an addict, with an insatiable smells habit. Her foxhound nose is in total charge of all her actions and it just takes over as soon as we leave the house.
The last time I let her off the lead, I spent several hours leaning into a blizzard whipping across an empty fen watching my dog being led a merry dance by a hare – backwards and forwards across the same bit of field.
So, while we wish our local Crufts competitors the best of luck, please spare a thought for those of us at the other end of the spectrum – the scruffy, ill-trained and miserable . . . and their dogs.