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THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL!

DOG lovers from South Wales are in Birmingham this weekend for the biggest canine event on the planet.

The annual Crufts competition, which got under way on Thursday, is the world's greatest dog show and attracts visitors and exhibitors from all corners of the globe. More than 21,000 top dogs will compete for the prestigious best of show title.

This year it is The Kennel Club's intention at Crufts to highlight the varied roles that dogs play in society - search and rescue, drug detection and crime prevention are just some of the areas where dogs' superior skills have proved invaluable.

The ultimate sacrifice afforded to man by his best friend comes at times of war. Of the many animals employed by our forces, dogs have shown themselves to be particularly faithful servants.

Over the years they have fulfiled many tasks such as running messages through the trenches, dodging bullets and artillery fire in their efforts to relay vital communications.

Nowadays, in addition to active duty they are employed to guard sensitive areas, prisoners or armouries, acting as a deterrent and freeing up soldiers for other duties.

These roles are vital today and perhaps the best example has been in the wake of the events of September 11 and the war on terrorism.

Jilly Cooper, representing the Animals in War Memorial Fund, said:

"Countless millions of innocent animals have served and died terrible deaths beside our British and Commonwealth armies during the 20th Century. They had no idea why they had been drawn into our conflicts and acted solely out of loyalty and love.

The Animals in War Memorial Fund will redress the balance by building a beautiful monument in Park Lane as a constant reminder of the debt we owe our animal allies and will finally give animals the recognition they so richly deserve."

To support the Animals in War Memorial Fund The Kennel Club will be providing a dedicated stand at Crufts to raise funds to turn this proposed monument into a reality.

Lukey and Kookie aiming to win JENNETT Bayliss has entered two dogs in this year's show - Lukey - a two-and-half-year-old French Bulldog and Kookie, a three-yearold Schipperke.

Lukey - whose full name is Jodash Bold Karmajen - has already scooped prizes on the national dog show circuit.

Kookie - real name Franhowel Romeo - also loves being in the spotlight and Jennett believes both animals get excited in the days leading up to a competition.

"They know they are going to a show before we leave, " said Jennett, from Llanbradach, who has been showing dogs for more than 30 years.

"When I give them a bath a few days before they seem to have a sixth sense that a show is coming up and when it's time to travel they leap into their baskets."

Kookie is a Schipperke - a Belgium dog bred to herd geese.

Lukey is a French bulldog - once popular with the French bourgeoisie. They take part in the utility section of Crufts today.

A rising star takes on Crufts

ITALIAN Spinone Nigel is a rising star on the national dog show circuit.

The two-and-a-half-yearold hunting dog has already scooped a Challenge Certificate for his impeccable turnout.

His owner, Clive Davies, from Taffs Well, is confident Nigel will do well when he goes before the judges tomorrow.

"He's a very good dog, " said Clive. "He is definitely a rising star.

"He really enjoys the shows and I'm confident he is in with a chance."

Spinones are relative newcomers to the UK and have only been showed in the last decade.

The Italian breed can lay claim to being one of the oldest of all gun dog breeds.

Clive has had several successes with his canines at Crufts and has scooped coveted Best of Breed titles.

He has been showing at Crufts "for as long as he can remember" and says it's not the competition but the event that makes Crufts so special.

"I have met people from all over the world and we have become good friends, " said Clive.

Russian hunting dog Buran sets his sights on win EIGHTEEN-MONTH-OLD Borzoi Buran is a relative newcomer in the show world but has already notched up an appearance at Crufts.

Buran - whose full name is Yanjoy Dream Machine with Cwmcooake - is a Russian hunting dog.

His owner Juliet Meek, from Pentre, said it takes a lot of work to keep her Borzoi in tip top shape.

Buran can be quite a handful too because of his size but Juliet has no fears that he will bound off into the crowd if distracted.

She said: "He is still a little bit flamboyant.

"Borzois settle down a bit when they are around two. But he knows how to behave and the spectators and other dogs wont bother him."

The Borzoi or Russian Wolf Hound was originally bread for coursing game in open terrain, relying on sight rather than scent.

Buran competes in the Post Graduate section of the competition.

CAPTION(S):

CANINE CAPERS Jennett Bayliss with dogs Lukey and Kookie. Inset right, two bearded collies from Crufts this weekend. RUSSIAN BREED Juliet Meek with Buran - a Russian hunting dog. Inset, left, a Siberian Husky at this year's show and inset above right, a relaxed St Bernards takes it all in his stride.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 9, 2002
Words:880
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