My Week: Jan Fiers, dog trainer

Trainer Jan Fiers explains why Crufts is still the central event of the year for Britain's committed dog lovers
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The Independent Online

Monday

I start to prepare the show bags for the dogs and put in everything I might need for Crufts, where I have two dogs, Odd Socks and BJ, entered in the competition. This is my 20th Crufts, so I'm always well prepared now. In the evening I exercise the dogs and take them for a run. I never do more than 15 minutes a day of actual show practice because otherwise they'd get bored and they won't look forward to it. I spend the evening curled up on the sofa with my eight dogs: five whippets and three Italian greyhounds.



Tuesday

I go to my HR job in the day but manage to leave about three. Then I have tea and take out the dogs for a four-mile road walk. I inspect the dogs – especially their nails – in the evening.



Wednesday

Work again as usual in the day, then I do a huge shop at the supermarket. I spend the evening grooming the dogs as it's show day tomorrow. BJ is nine and very experienced with shows, so when it's bath time, he knows that it is show time tomorrow. He's very good, but the other dog that I'm entering, Odd Socks, is only two and a bit more apprehensive. Whippets are supposed to have a nice whip on their tail, so I tidy them up. I give them a good brush too and use a velvet cloth to give them a great shine. My husband and I let them sleep in our bed tonight which they take over.

Thursday

I'm up at 3am, take the dogs for a very quick walk, have a little bit of breakfast and then drive to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. There are rumours that animal rights activists plan to let dogs out of their cages – there is even a rumour that someone was going to try to block the M32 but fortunately we get there fine. I take the dogs for a practice run, before it's BJ's big moment. There are 14 dogs in his class and he is awarded fourth place which I'm thrilled with. It is his last show before he retires, so it's lovely to go out on a high note. We then watch some of the other classes until it's Odd Socks's turn. There are 39 dogs in his class and sadly he doesn't get shortlisted but he performs very well and I'm extremely proud of him.

Friday

I go back to Crufts to watch some of the shows and look after the English toy terrier stand that I'm in charge of. Crufts is such a lovely event and it's a shame that the BBC has dropped it from the schedule following concerns about the health of breeds like bulldogs and basset hounds. A recent documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, was one of the reasons for not airing Crufts. It was very one-sided and didn't show the Kennel Club's commitment to the dogs' health. There have been lots of schemes in place for years and they work very hard with the breed clubs to improve health. The people involved with Crufts love dogs, and it's a shame that it can't be shared with others.



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