08:05AM, Friday 28 February 2014
Dog show veterans are hoping for further success at Crufts this year.
The four-day event held in Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre is the largest dog show in the world.
Ann Hodgson, who lives in the St Marks area, will return with two Old English Sheepdogs, Rupert and Prudence.
The two-and-a-half year olds, who are brother and sister, are returning to the midlands after success in their classes last year when Prudence won the postgraduate bitch award and Rupert finished third for yearling dog.
Ann, a retired research scientist, says the breed's long-hair presents a challenge when presenting the dog for shows, especially as she takes the dogs out walking in the wind and rain throughout the winter.
Mud breaks up the dogs' eight-inch coats, which have to be in top condition to impress the judges
"Showing them is high maintenance, in particularly in the weather we've had," she said.
"Mine live as a proper dogs, they go out for walks.
"Once a week they have their feet properly bathed, get all the debris and stains out. Before the show all the white is washed, their head, necks and legs."
The 66-year-old added that washing and grooming each dog can take up to three hours, which she does before setting off for the show.
Shirley Lee, from Bray, is entering five Chihuahuas this year.
She says its fairly easy to prepare the pooches ahead of the competition.
"You've only got to bathe them and make sure their nails are trimmed, you do not have to do a great deal," she said.
On the day she will comb the dogs, fluff their tails and shine their coats.
"I take them to the exercise area to do a wee, put them back into their boxes so they are relaxed," said Shirley.
"Then I just get them out a little while before their class, brush them through and they're ready to go."
The four Chihuahuas she entered last year each finished in the top four of their categories.
She has been successful at Crufts for more than four decades and never left a competition without at least winning a certificate.
Crufts starts on Thursday, March 6 and runs until Sunday, March 9.
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