It was a waggy tail story earlier this week when Jet, the gorgeously glossy black flat coated retriever from Perth, scooped the Best in Show accolade at this year’s Crufts. Beating 21,000 other pampered pooches the nine-and-a-half year old, which equates to 66-and-a-half years in human terms, became top dog after show organisers described him as “a joy to watch”.Shunning vitamins and intensive grooming regimes for a 90 minute coat brushing session every fortnight and daily walkies in his owner’s six acres of land where he roams with the peacocks, it seems that a dose of fresh air, two meals a day diet, followed by resting his weary eyes and sleeping at the bottom of his owner’s bed is the key to success – not to mention a dog’s life.
Crufts came under fire after a 2008 BBC documentary claimed the breeding processes used to produce pedigree dogs has created high levels of genetic diseases. This resulted in dog food brand Pedigree dropping its sponsorship and the corporation pulling its plug on airing the show. Ultimately, the 120 year old dog show’s reputation was in tatters. Licking its wounds, it suffered further backlash two years ago when the RSPCA said that not enough was being done to protect the health and welfare of the dogs.
However, next year’s event brings new rules which will mean certain dogs will need a clean bill of health from a vet before awards are confirmed. It’s a step in the right direction in helping to re-build its reputation. But as a nation of dog lovers the welfare of the animals is more important than how a dog looks, and breeders need to bear in mind that those puppy dog eyes could be hiding a multitude of health problems.