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Dog day afternoon; Crufts is in its 100th year and, as always, competitors come from far and wide to take on their canine rivals. Karina Wulff Harrestrup and Emma Pinch report.

Byline: Emma Pinch

The NEC has once again become a dog lover's paradise as Crufts bounds into town.

Opening yesterday with the gun dogs' day, retrievers, spaniels and setters made up the main canine competitors.

Beside the many dog cages, all open to members of the public who don't mind being sniffed at, are stalls selling everything pooch-related from printed leather handbags to every imaginable breed of soft toy.

Carol and John Wilkins had travelled from Hull to show off their cross breed Megan in the Good Citizenship display.

The scheme, run by the Kennel Club, aims to improve dogs' behaviour with other animals and humans.

Carol and John waited their turn next to the white picket-fenced arena, which was studded with pots of fake plants to lure the dogs into temptation.

With fond glances down at their three-year-old pet, the couple proudly told how her behaviour had changed from boisterous to docile after six weeks of training.

'It really opened up a new world for us,' said John, a van driver. 'When we bought her, we thought she had been trained but she was so uncontrollable we didn't know what to do.

'She would bark and fight with other dogs and jump up whenever we passed anyone while out walking.

'Then after six weeks of Good Citizenship it suddenly clicked with her and she was completely changed. I never dreamt I'd be eventually showing her at Crufts'.

Crufts runs at the NEC until Sunday March 9.

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Gun dogs compete on the opening day of Crufts at the NEC Pictures/JOHN JAMES
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 7, 2003
Words:264
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