The annual Crufts International Dog Show held at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham is one of the most prestigious events in the dog show calendar, attracting over 20,000 entries and thousands of dog loving visitors to see the very best examples of individual dog breeds being put through their paces and judged by invited experts from around the globe.
Our clients request to take a polygraph test based on her participation in this year’s show evoked for me, over 50 years of memories. I can still recall the first time I visited Crufts, over 50 years ago. In those days the show was held in Olympia in London and I remember travelling from our home in the Midlands in the back of an old Anglia van, with my elder brother driving and arriving there at 1am just so we could queue and guarantee a seat around the obedience ring. How strange that behaviour seems today.
As soon as the entrance doors were opened there was a great stampede of visitors just like the January Sales people would race to the Obedience ring to grab one of the few
seats arranged around the arena, so you could watch the obedience competition all day. That was what you did in those days. There was no internet to book your tickets in advance, no mobile phone app to guide your journey and although the show was televised most people didn’t yet have colour TV’s. Now, of course, with the advance in technology and a greater affluent society you can book in advance, get your sat-nav to take you straight to the door or watch the highlights in glorious colour on your digital TV, as many thousands worldwide now do.
In essence the Crufts Dog Show is run over four days with a day for each of the four breed categories of dog, Toy and Utility, Gundogs, Working and Pastoral and finally Terrier and Hound which culminates on the final day with a dog being awarded “Best in Show” arguably the highest accolade in the dog breeders world. And at the same time the obedience competition, scruffs judging and a huge array of literally everything to do with dogs is on display for sale by hundreds of stall holders.
Since the competition moved from Olympia to the NEC the show has grown in both size and the amount of foreign exhibitors and visitors who now attend year on year. With the winners, their owners and breeders gaining international recognition and increasing the value of the individual dog and their eventual offspring, serious amounts of money are now involved. Our client was a professional dog handler and had travelled to our country with two dogs entered into the show by their owners. She had been at the show for the whole four days and as a handler with an international reputation herself, she met many old friends and exhibitors for whom she had exhibited dogs over the years both here and abroad.
The clients owners had rightly great expectations of their beloved dogs and had spent considerable amounts of money on the hire of the handler, flights and accommodation for both her and the dogs and as the dogs were already international champions they had high hopes of winning. The client explained what is obvious to any individual. The winners on the day are those chosen in the opinion of one person and one person only, the judge in the exhibition ring. And whilst that judgement can be hard to accept when one is emotionally invested in the dogs, it is a fact.
The clients first dog had to be withdrawn because she came into season between leaving her home country and arriving in the U.K. The second dog although being presented in its finest condition was unfortunately not chosen in the final round.
When the client informed the dog’s owners she was faced with a barrage of abuse and allegations that she had been bribed to mishandle the dogs, intentionally failing to exhibit them at their best. Friends of the owners who attended the show had reported back that the client had been seen taking cash payments from other exhibitors.
Professional handlers are employed for many reasons and it is common practice for them to handle more than one dog for more than one owner at the same show and as the client explained, this is exactly what happened at Crufts. Although her and her assistant had travelled at her clients cost, she was a free agent to accept other work at the same venue. On this occasion she had been approached by two elderly past clients who had asked her to exhibit their dogs who were not in the same breed category of her clients’ animals. She had accepted and been paid in cash, which she openly received in the main hall of the arena in front of many witnesses.
However, the handlers’ initial client would not accept this explanation and she wanted to prove them wrong. In her own country the polygraph was commonly used and she knew that her clients had resolved issues before using the polygraph and would be able to accept the outcome as proof of her honesty and credibility as her reputation was understandably important to her in her profession. I had been identified as being an acceptable choice as an examiner by her clients after they researched my qualifications and experience on the American Polygraph Association and U.K. Polygraph Association websites and viewed blogs on our own webpages.
The examination was commenced and our client I am pleased to say passed her polygraph test confirming both her honesty and integrity.
A case of “barking up the wrong tree?”