Amber and I were lucky enough to have been invited by Frontline Plus to attend Crufts this year. It was Amber’s first time visiting the world famous event, however it wasn’t mine. I attended in 2017 but had to leave Amber at home – much to her disgust. Having now experienced the show both with a dog and without, I thought I’d share with you the main differences I noticed and which I enjoyed more. Dog or No Dog? That is the question!
Packing for the trip:
With no dog: One advantage to traveling alone is that you are able to pack much lighter! Last year, all I took with me was a small bag which contained my purse and not much else. This was very comfortable to walk around with all day and didn’t weigh me down in the slightest.
With a dog: Packing for Crufts this year was a whole different ball game! I had a backpack full of pooch essentials from poo bags to extra accessories (ok, maybe these aren’t essential but I over pack). Having all of this in my bag did leave me with a bad back by the end of the day – but its a small price to pay if it means your dog is comfortable and well looked after throughout the day.
With no dog: My journey to Crufts in 2017 was pretty straightforward – I hopped on a train and arrived straight into the NEC, which is connected to the train station. That was about the extent of my travel last year – pretty stress free apart from the fact I lost my card and almost turned up to Crufts with no money – but thats a story for another day.
With a dog: This year my journey was quite different. I decided to drive as although Amber is great on the train, I had quite a lot of stuff to take with me so though it would be easier to take the car. Luckily for me I can zoom straight down the M6 for an hour and a half and i’m at the NEC , so again it was quite a stress free journey. The best thing about driving to Crufts is definitely being able to sing your heart out in the car – if you did that on the train you’d get some funny looks.
The event itself:
With no dog: One thing that I found I did more of when I went dogless in 2017 was watching events in the rings. I watched quite a few agility runs as well as obedience and even a bit of doggy dancing! I must have spent half the day stood around the different rings watching the incredibly talented dogs and owners do their thing! This was great however it left me with less time for shopping for goodies to spoil Amber with. Lets just say I don’t think she was happy with what I brought home for her last year.
With a dog: Whilst at Crufts this year I caught about 5 minutes (if that) of the obedience and that was it as far as event spectating went. Amber was not about to stand around watching other dogs compete when she was surrounded by food companies. For this reason we got A LOT of shopping done this year. Amber was in her element, rushing from stand to stand lapping up all of the attention she was getting. We had a great time visiting some amazing companies and learning more about them and what they stand for – I thought i’d share some of my favourites. The first stand we came across was Beco Pets – Naturally Amber lapped up all the attention everyone at the stand gave her. We learned about how Beco was different to other foods and what the benefits of feeding it are – these are outlined on their website if you’d like to have a look. I picked up a bag of their free range chicken flavour and we were very kindly given some samples of the other flavours in their range as well as some poo bags – which are always needed!
We then went to see what was going on at the Lily’s Kitchen stand. They had a great feature where you wrote down your #itsnotloopy crazy dog owner confessions and had your photo taken.
As we were leaving we were given a goodie bag full of treats which Amber loved! We’re definitely going to have to stock up on more treats once they run out as Amber can’t get enough of them.
After leaving Lily’s Kitchen we popped by a few more stands on the way to visit Frontline. Their stand was amazing – they had a giant Cavalier called Titch teaching people about fleas and how to prevent them. Titch was accompanied by a giant sofa and dog bed – which Amber loved sitting on.
One big difference I noticed with having a dog with you is that people are much more willing to talk to you – both at stands and in general! Whilst at the Frontline stand we were approached by so many people asking questions about Amber and taking photos with her – she loves being the centre of attention so she was having the time of her life!
We also swung by at I love Pet Head and Laughing dog food who both gave us some samples which was great.
We then went to find Hannah from @lunas.loft on instagram as she had a snood for Amber that I needed to pick up – We love it! She was at the Ivy and Duke stand where Amber decided to take a nap in one of their beds. I popped her in for a photo and she didn’t want to get out. They almost inherited a dog!
The last company I want to mention is Nineteen 87 who not only had a great deal on (a good sized box of food and a bag of treats for £5) but also had a double decker bus at their stand. This was definitely one of the most creative areas I saw at Crufts – Amber loved meeting the team and sitting on the bus too.
The only part of the day which was made harder by having Amber with me was lunch. She’s very well behaved but when it comes to food she thinks she’s entitled to it – so we had a few instances of her trying to steal my chips. Apart from this I definitely enjoyed the shopping experience more having Amber with me.
So… Dog or No Dog?
To conclude – Although I had to cart round a heavier bag and had a slightly longer journey, I definitely had a more enjoyable day when I had a dog with me. Having said that, I will definitely be having a day without her next year so that I can go and enjoy the shows (without a bored dog trying to pull me away) but I would also like to have a day with Amber – if we are fortunate enough to be invited again!