2016 Keswick Scruffs - a special dog show in the Lake District

PUBLISHED: 00:00 30 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:10 30 August 2016

Captain Pugwash - 2nd in fancy dress Buddy with Jasmine.

Captain Pugwash - 2nd in fancy dress Buddy with Jasmine.


It is now, as Emily Rothery reports from a dog show with a difference

THEY say that every dog has its day and that was especially true during a fun-packed day in Keswick when 500 owners from all over the north turned up for a very special show.

It had nothing to do with impeccable pedigrees or gorgeous grooming - this was a competition full of canine comedy and it was appropriated named Scruffs.

Among the categories was most appealing eyebrows, smiliest dog, waggiest tail and best biscuit catcher. Humans also had the chance to compete alongside their pooches in categories such as happiest dog and owner, best mismatched pair and, perhaps most coveted of all, the dog most like its owner.

Dogs in the best tricks category entertained with balancing feats, twirls, high-fives and a little known dog sport, skipping, which involved one small dog jumping over a rope held at one end by its owner and a second dog with it clamped between its teeth at the other.

The Dogtathlon was another highlight where the dogs competed in an obstacle course alongside their owners who were there to encourage and guide their pets. As many of the dogs weren’t familiar with jumping hurdles or going through tunnels, the event gave rise to many creative tactics with dogs being lifted over the jumps and humans squeezing though tight tunnels with their bemused four-legged friends, all to the delight of the crowd.

Lola, an Italian pointer, won the dog with the longest ears category. Her owner, Raoul Boart, a tourist from Holland said: ‘I like the atmosphere and the humour. It is more fun than other dog shows.’

Competitors of advancing years got their chance in the best veteran category and the search for the most extraordinary dog tugged at our heart strings as each owner told the story of their beloved pet. Marilyn Grant, from Keswick, proudly claimed the red rosette on behalf of her elderly chocolate Labrador, Cadbury. ‘He was feral and has cancer which has been operated on but can’t be cured. I took him on as an end of life adoption.’ Cadbury has turned into family pet in just three months.

‘Any dog can enter the events. Some of the categories are bonkers and we have a lot of dogs in one place but their welfare is paramount,’ said Paul Titley, who has just completed his term as Keswick’s mayor and is involved in organising the show, alongside a dedicated team. ‘It’s all very good humoured and a bit different from the more serious dog shows.

‘ I’m pleased to say that in the two previous years that we have run the dog show in Fitz Park we’ve never had to clean up after the dogs.’ Paul’s alter ego, master of ceremonies Dr Dog, introduced the terrier racing to the crowd, explaining that in 2015 an open event was added so any dog could have a go. The race turned out to be more debacle than debut. ‘The line-up included poodles, bulldogs and Dobermans. When the starting horn sounded the dogs chased all over the place as they didn’t have the terrier gene to chase the quarry, a toy rabbit. Then the Doberman caught the rabbit before the finish line and tore it to bits. We declared him winner and vowed never to do that again!’

This year a whippet race was introduced and, cheered along by their enthusiastic owners, these streamlined sprinters soon got the hang of chasing a fast moving toy duck, reeled in by a bicycle, across the field.

The compare revealed that in 2014 the police dog demonstration hadn’t quite gone to plan. ‘The drug sniffer dog checked out a line of volunteers. He found the bloke with the hidden stash but also wouldn’t leave another volunteer alone. He’s still helping the police with their enquiries.’

Spectators enjoyed the fancy dress competition with dogs posing in a fetching array of outfits, including a local pug-chihuahua cross dressed as Captain Pugwash.

Linda Forrest who had travelled from Ayrshire to the event and who won second place in the dog most like its owner category said: ‘We just had to come to Fitz Park. It’s absolutely hilarious - brilliant fun.’

Scruffs 2017 is expected to be held in June. Check keswick-scruffs.co.uk

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