Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am a massive dog lover. The sight of a gorgeous dog has distracted me many a time from whatever I happen to be doing at the time: shopping, eating, drinking, holding a conversation, work…
I have always loved dogs, and I grew up with a gorgeous, bonkers Dalmatian in our house. For eleven years, Sparky brought joy and laughter to our lives, and we wouldn’t have been without him for the world. He was incredibly friendly and loving, and his death aged eleven due to a tumour punched a massive hole in our family. We all still miss him today, and we all have our own special memories of him. Dalmatians are fantastic dogs, and I couldn’t imagine not owning (at least) one myself one day. But with the restrictions on my life at the moment (read: long, unsociable working hours and a flatmate who’s not so keen on dogs) it just wouldn’t be fair to have a dog of my own.
For all of these reasons and more, Discover Dogs is my doggy nirvana. Held each November at Earls Court, this show celebrates everything dog-shaped. This year was the third time I have been in the last four years, and I never grow tired of it. With over 200 dog breeds on show with their own individual stands, an exciting programme of shows and competitions in the arenas, and row upon row of stalls offering canine treats, toys and tools, what’s not to love?
This year, I took my mum, Ben and Tony. It’s the last year the show will be held at Earls Court, before making the jump to Excel Docklands next year. We rocked up on the Sunday with a packed lunch and high hopes for a day filled with waggy tails, furry cuddles and excitable barks. And we got all of the above! In fact the reason this post has been so delayed in publishing is due to the sheer volume of photos we sifted through – between myself and Ben, we took over 600 photos! The ones on here are the highlights, because no matter how big a dog fan you are, no one wants to sit and look through 600 flyball photos…
From there, we toured one half of the dog stands before lunch. I started off taking the photos, but somewhere along the way Ben took over, and he got a bit overexcited with the camera – most of the photographic credit from this post should probably go to him!
Just after one o’clock we made our way to the main arena for an exciting programme of events. We were lucky that, shortly after we arrived, we caught the end of the final of Scrufts. Following on from that we had the Heelwork to Music routine. Often pegged as one of the silliest things a human can make a dog do, this looks to be no exception from the outset:
However, what the owners can train their dog to do in time to music using treats as incentive is pretty impressive! Though I’m not entirely sure what the Scottish theme was about – a nod to the referendum result, maybe?
One of the things I was looking forward to showing Ben (who’d never been to the show before), was Flyball. This also looks a little bonkers to the untrained eye, but the dogs love it. Essentially, Flyball is a relay race comprising of four dogs taking it in turns to jump over four jumps to the end of a path, where they collect a tennis ball from a board at one end and then return to the start. The dogs have to clear each jump on the way to and from the ball collection, and the team which finish first are the winners. It’s a best of three, and they had several rounds to whittle down to an overall winner. The audience are split in two to cheer on the teams, and it got quite heated by the end!
After several, very happy hours cooing over some delightful dogs, we took our leave from the show. I could have taken a whole host of them home, but it has certainly given Ben and I some ideas now as to what kind of dog we want when we (finally) have the time and space for one in our lives! Until that moment, I will just have to live vicariously through the dogs of others!
I cannot recommend Discover Dogs enough to you! If you love dogs, if you have your own or you’re considering getting one, then this is definitely the place for you! The owners are knowledgeable about the breeds and will answer all your questions about what type of dog is right for you. The shows are great fun and it’s a great day out for the entire family!
Next year, Discover Dogs moves to the Excel Centre in Docklands on 17th-18th October. For earlybird tickets, you can buy here now!