It’s the most glamorous and high-profile event of the British dog show calendar, and this year Crufts has made history once again, with the choice of five-year-old Scottish terrier Knopa for the coveted title of Best in Show.
A Scottish terrier hasn’t taken home the top prize since 1929 - shortly after the Best in Show title was introduced in 1928. Then the lucky dog was called Heather Necessity, but for 2015, the Russian visitor Knopa (official name McVan's to Russia with Love), along with her American handler Rebecca Cross, saw off six other dogs to take the supreme honour, all without a flowing black hair out of place.
Ms Cross said: “On my goodness, there are 21,000 other dogs here so this is completely unreal. I was convinced that the judge wasn’t going to pick her. She was wonderful tonight. She is probably going to retire after this show - that makes this even more special.”
The award comes as a welcome surprise to Ms Cross, who almost missed the competition (with Knopa in tow) after her flight was delayed.
The runner-up was Dublin the flat-coated retriever, who took great delight in clutching his rosette between his jaws to show it off, as he had done when he won the gundog category the previous day.
These shows of enthusiasm were a welcome high spot in a competition that has been marred by the sudden death of Irish Setter Jagger, who was found to have been fed poisoned meat. His owners believe that this could only have happened while he was on the bench at the competition. Two other dogs have also been taken ill, according to a judge who spoke to the Daily Telegraph on condition of anonymity.
While the show dog world is a highly competitive place, this is the most serious allegation of foul play recorded in the contest’s 149-year history, and it is one that will hopefully never be repeated.
Written by: Hannah Dyball