Jodie Kidd and Victoria Pendleton are among celebs flocking to Crufts
GRIMSBY Telegraph reporter and The Journal editor Laura Stuart-Cook is at Crufts. Here is a blog of her experiences so far...
I'm sitting writing this in the middle of the action on the first day of Crufts.
Each March, the world's finest dogs and their handlers flock to Birmingham's NEC for four days to compete in a variety of prestigious competitions.
With more than 25,000 dogs taking part, it's fair to say the atmosphere is electric - and a little noisy!! Already today I've seen supermodel Jodie Kidd visiting the Samsung stand and discovered that Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton will be visiting the show tomorrow.
Each year there is an unjust furore surrounding the show, with animal rights campaigners claiming that showing dogs is cruel.
I even remember being greeted at the entrance one year by a bunch of protestors proclaiming 'a dead dog is happier than a show dog' - I think my irish setter's happily wagging tail proved them wrong!
Yes, there are health problems in pedigree dogs, but when you look at the state us humans are in, the problems within dogs look somewhat less severe. Responsible breeders are working closely with the Kennel Club to eradicate genetic problems an ensure dogs are in peak physical condition.
Each Best Of Breed winner is now checked from top to tail by a vet to ensure it is 'fit for function' and, quite frankly, the dogs here are some of the happiest, healthiest and most adored you could wish to find.
This year I have been given the honour of judging the Young Kennel Club handling finals at Crufts. Youngsters between the ages of six and 25 work hard to qualify for the show during the preceding twelve months.
They are then assessed at Crufts on how well they present their dogs for the judge in the ring. Today, which is terrier and hound day, I will judge three classes - 6-11, 12-16 and 17-24.
The winners of each class will then go forward to compete in the national show dog handler of the year final on Sunday. Stepping out onto that iconic green carpet is a huge honour and makes me proud to be part of the dog show world.