Monday, March 15, 2010

Yogi the Hungarian Vizsla beats 22,000 doggy contenders to win Crufts
By Sophie Borland

Top dog: Hungarian Vizsla Yogi, pictured with handler John Thirlwell, was named Best in Show at Crufts
His handler John Thirlwell, who trains the dog in Carlisle, Cumbria, said: 'He is just such a wonderful dog, I am just pleased that he stood up to it.'

He could not have wished for a better end to his dog-show career.

Yogi, the seven-year-old Hungarian Vizsla, yesterday scooped Best in Show at Crufts - moments before it was announced he would be 'retiring'.

The chocolate-brown dog, who was praised for his 'powerful' and 'free' movement, had beaten off 22,000 other pooches to win what is regarded as the most coveted crown in dogdom.

Yogi, who won the Gundog group earlier in the evening, is the first Hungarian Vizsla to win Best in Show at Crufts, held at the NEC in Birmingham.

Mr Thirlwell later said he is likely to retire now.

Judge Valerie Foss said: 'He is such a lovely mover, so powerful, so free.
'He is just a very, very good dog.'

The Kennel Club, the show's organisers, said almost 22,000 dogs across 187 breeds were entered into this year's Best in Show competition.

They had been whittled down in their individual categories during the four-day contest to just seven competitors - one from each group - who battled it out last night.

Walkies: Thirlwell puts Yogi through his paces during the four-day contest in Birmingham
They included a Rottweiler, a Welsh Corgi, Scottish Terrier and a Pharaoh Hound - a breed of dog traditionally from the island of Malta.

Taking second place was a Scottish Terrier from Russia, whose pet name is Rico.
Thousands of dog-lovers packed the arena to cheer on the finalists

Second place: A terrier named Rico, pictured with his Russian owner Valentina Popova, was named runner-up

The tense round of judging was briefly disrupted by an anti-breeding protester holding up a banner and shouting from the stands, and a streaker who ran into the arena.

The streaker was wearing nothing but shoes and socks and a cat-shaped mask covering his modesty and had the words 'I' written on his chest.

Believed to be known as the 'Captain', the man was quickly escorted from the area, allowing judging to continue.

Tense: An Akita named Tyra from West Lancashire with handler Liz Dunhill during the judging for the Best in Show

In the running: A Rottweiler named Joe from Rotherham with handler Marie Monk competes for the Best in Show
The Best in Show prize has been awarded for the past 79 years, with 40 breeds winning the coveted title over the years.

In recent years, the event has been shrouded in controversy over pedigree breeding.

Earlier this week the charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) claimed breeders were 'creating a Frankenstein's monster of a dog'.

Can we have some? A couple of pooches fancy a snack on the fourth and final day of the contest

This year the event was broadcast on More4 after the BBC - which began screening Crufts in 1966 - announced it was dropping its coverage in December 2008.

The decision followed a BBC documentary claiming Crufts allowed damaging breeding practices that caused disease and deformities.
The RSPCA also withdrew its support in 2008 because of welfare concerns

Dog tired: One of the show's competitors takes a breather

I'm sorry, Sir - you have to be a canine to enter this competition...

Not the right pedigree: A security guard attempts to apprehend an anti-breeding protester - known as the 'Captain - from streaking across the floor of the main arena during judging

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