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March 2014

Kooikerhondje dog



2014 Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey

Dallas Seavey wins 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race in record time

Seavey earns comeback victory in eight days, 13 hours.

Dallas Seavey ran a blistering pace to come from third place and win his second Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race early Tuesday in a record-breaking finish, after a storm blew the front-runner out of the competition and kept another musher minutes away from her first win.

Seavey, 27, was the first musher under the famed  arch finish line in Nome. He flew through the last 77 miles to catch the two mushers in front of him, four-time champion Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle, who finished in second.

Seavey finished the race in eight days, 13 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds, easily breaking the old record set in 2011. Zirkle was 2 minutes 22 seconds behind him. Zirkle also finished second in 2012 and 2013.

King was racing to a record tying fifth win when a gust of wind blew him off course, effectively taking him out of the race just miles from Nome. Until then, he had a safe lead of an hour.

Seavey holds the record for being the youngest champion ever; he was 25 when he won in 2012. Seavey comes from a mushing family. With his grandfather, Dan Seavey, helped organize the first Iditarod in 1973.

His father, Mitch Seavey, has twice won the nearly thousand-mile race across Alaska. Mitch won in 2006 and last year became the race’s oldest champion at age 53.

He’s also a worked on the reality television series “Ultimate Survival Alaska”. Seavey admits he’s somewhat of a hermit, and doesn’t own a television. The only time he sees an episode of the show is when he downloads it on his computer.

“I don’t leave my training compound if I can help it,” says Dallas. “If I leave, it’s by dog team, not by vehicle.” The trail this year has been marked by poor conditions because of a lack of snow after a warm winter by Alaska standards.

A number of mushers were injured at the beginning of the race as their sleds ran on gravel near the Dalzell Gorge. One racer, Scott Janssen of Anchorage, had to be rescued by a National Guard helicopter crew after breaking his ankle.

Snowless conditions again greeted mushers as they reached the western coast of the nation’s biggest state. The race began 2 March in Willow with 69 teams. As of Tuesday morning, 17 mushers had dropped out and one was withdrawn.

The Iditarod winner receives $50,000 and a brand new truck. The 29 teams after that get cash prizes decreasing on a sliding scale. All other teams finishing the race receive $1,049.

John Baker, held the fastest finish in Iditarod history, covering the trail from Anchorage to Nome in eight days, 18 hours and 46 minutes in 2011.





Iditarod 2014








Crufts rosettes

Crufts 2014: world’s top dogs arrive at Birmingham’s NEC

Dog show mixes passion and fun for owners, as organizers try to counter animal rights concerns

For some it’s a chance to meet old friends, have a gossip and show off their beloved pets. For others, Crufts – the world’s most famous dog show, is an all-consuming passion. Winning matters.

Gary Waters, from Ashford, Kent, probably falls into the first category. “It’s not too serious for me,” he said as he guided Chubby, his impressively shaggy Komondor  to the bench that was to be his home from home for the day.

Chubby was wearing a blue cagoule stitched together by Gary’s wife. “There are only two dogs in his category so he’s got a good chance of winning. But we enjoy coming here, having a laugh with our mates. Winning isn’t the most important thing for us.”

While over at ring 15, however, Bill Britton was not feeling so jolly. He was pleased with the performance of his two Australian cattle dogs, combative creatures with dingo blood in them, but was unimpressed with the appearance of a professional Italian handler, who had helped a dog rejoicing in the name Banana Bender the Governor, take the best dog prize.

“It’s not quite right,” said Britton. “The owner has an unfair advantage because a professional handler knows how to hide the defects of the dog. He can make an average dog look much better. It’s not cheating of course, but to me it’s not quite honest.”

Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham: komondors and their owners await judging.

Britton’s concerns notwithstanding, the show which began on Thursday and runs for four days at the NEC in Birmingham, was buzzing.

According to the Kennel Club, which runs the show, more than 21,500 dogs are competing, 5% more than last year. Of those, 2,500 dogs have been brought to the West Midlands from overseas. There are competitors here from more than 45 countries, including Bermuda, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Guatemala and Azerbaijan.

The show is an extraordinary assault on the senses, and not all of them pleasant.

This is not the place to be if you don’t like the sound of barking, yapping or growling. Not all the dogs make it to the fenced-off sawdust-strewn doggy toilets at the edges of the halls. Walk too close to a Newfoundland and you risk being slobbered all over.

The show, which was first staged in 1891, is not without its detractors, animal rights campaigners claiming that it is a celebration of looks rather than health. The RSPCA is running a campaign named Born to Suffer, calling on the Kennel Club’s breed standards to be reviewed by a panel of independent experts so they choice the health, welfare and temperament over their appearance.

It raises worries about dogs that are bred to have short, flat faces such as pugs or bulldogs or very wrinkled skin such as basset hounds, saying this can cause then pain and suffering.

The US group Peta goes further, branding Crufts a “grotesque charade” and claiming some breeds can barely breathe or mate unaided. After animal concerns were voiced, the BBC, which began televising Crufts in 1950, dropped out, and Channel 4 and More4 have taken over broadcast rights. It is promising to put health and welfare issues at the fore front of its coverage.

The chairman of the Kennel Club, Steve Dean, said an important part of Crufts was the promotion of a happy and healthy dog. The club is launching a scheme this year called Estimated Breeding Values aimed at aiding breeders evaluate genetic risk more accurately. During this year’s show the club’s charitable trust is also giving £1.6m to the Kennel Club Genetics Centre.

The Kennel Club also says that the show is not all about the pedigree competitions. It is running “Scrufts”, celebrating crossbreed dogs with good stories, such as Wylie, a dog rescued by British troops in Afghanistan after he had had his ears cut off, been knifed and run over.

But the headline-grabbers are those purebreds. Such as Nickolay Kuryliov’s snowy white samoyed dogs, who had flown in from St Petersburg with him. “It’s my first time here, it’s a wonderful atmosphere,” said Kuryliov.

Emma Herring, who was keeping her mastiffs Hovis and Treacle well occupied as they waited for their moment in the spotlight, said it had felt like she had travelled from abroad, though in fact it was only Norfolk. “We had to get up at 3am. We must be crazy.”

Arguably, the real heroes of Crufts are the cleaners who patrol the halls hauling wheelie bins filled with detergent and who have the unpleasant  task of cleaning up after the pooches who did not reach the sawdust. “This is my worst four days of the year,” said one who asked not to be named. “I much prefer the caravan show, many fewer little accidents.”





Three-legged rescue dog fitted with prosthetic paw

A three-legged rescue dog is enjoying walks again thanks to a prosthetic paw.

The German Shepherd Shadow had his left foreleg amputated after he got caught in a trap and was abandoned by his original owners.

He suffered displaced hips and arthritis as a result and was nearly put down when he was taken in by dog lover Sara May.

She brought 16-month-old Shadow home to Southampton from Spain in early September and started a campaign to raise £6,000 to buy his high-tech paw.

She reached her goal when a man turned up on her doorstep with £2,000 and the limb was ordered from a firm in the US.

Sara, 39, said: “It’s amazing. Shadow has just taken to it. It has been fantastic that people helped with donations.”


March 2014

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