Akela’s first visit to Crufts went fantastically well. As Crufts celebrated its 125th year we had our first stand at the show and although it was not the first time our staff have walked through those doors it never fails impress with the sheer number of dog enthusiasts it attracts. Sure, the dog showing world and The Kennel Club usually has some negative press around the event but we like to focus on all the good points from the four day event. Below are our highlights, through the eyes of our Product Manager, Jackie.
Our goody bags went down very well, giving new and existing customers a chance to try out some of our treats and our new wet food, whilst grabbing themselves a cool canvas bag and even one of our funky new car stickers. It was great to see people coming back the next day or a few days later to pick one up for their friend who had been jealous, or even come back to buy more of the tins or the dry kibble. Apparently we were not making up how tasty our products are to dogs (we told you so!).
New Products Sold Out
By far the best sellers were the kangaroo dog food tins, goats’ ears dog chews and beef tails dog chews. We even had to get extra stock shipped in on the Saturday but we still sold out of most lines by the close on Sunday, great news for our staff as that meant there was less to pack up. Whilst we know that the ‘roo tins were mainly chosen for the novelty factor, this flavour was introduced with a serious agenda. With more and more dogs suffering from allergies to the more usual meats, the kangaroo provides a novel and extremely healthy protein option. For similar reasons the goats’ ears, which sit in size between lambs’ ears and cows’ ears, are a fantastic novel product. The long lasting beef tails went down well with owners of Staffies, Labradors and other strong chewers.
New Friends & Doggy Banter
On and off the stand it is amazing who you bump into at Crufts. Of course you can catch a glance of the likes of Clare Balding and Noel Fitzpatrick, but perhaps lesser known are the hundreds of charity workers and founders as well as their dogs and their stories all waiting to be discovered. We were visited by Allen Parton of Hounds for Heroes and met the famous EJ (Endal Junior, for those of you who have read the Endal book) and Rookie.
A personal highlight for me was getting to see Winnie, the Dogue De Bordeaux puppy being taken care of by Cinque Ports Rescue. This beautiful girl stole my heart at Discover Dogs in 2015 and it was lovely to see her still up and about on her three legs, even wearing her Akela harness for a bit of support in and out of her trolley.
Also very emotional was walking around the stands and spotting Nym, a dog helped by the Blind Dog Rescue UK. Having recently had to have my own dog’s eyes removed due to Glaucoma this was the first time I had seen a dog without eyes since and she almost left me in tears. Although you can see how settled, happy and well looked after she is now, her history tells of a much deeper and darker past in a different country. Many people would not get the chance to interact with dogs like Nym if it was not for the wonder that is Crufts, just one of its many gifts.
If you watched some of the Agility in the main ring you may well have spotted one of our Akela shirts on Martin Reid; our first sponsored owner. We will be telling everyone about Martin and his wonderful dogs Spring and Flash in a blog post real soon, but he made time in between his runs to pop and say hi so we could meet the extremely cute Spring.
You may also have picked up one of our leaflets introducing the Akela Rescue Dog Agility League. We met the organiser of the league (previously called DARL: Dog Agility Rescue League) and one of the young promising handlers who is competing. We will be sharing lots more information about the league but for now if you have a rescue dog and would like to know more you can see their page here.
Meeting Up With The Pack
It is always a pleasure to meet up with pack members new and old, with many owners being able to spot their dog or dogs on our pack wall. With so many visitors to the stand it was quite crammed on occasions but it was lovely to see Extra, Daisy-Mae, Buddy and everyone else who came onto our stand. Right at the end we were also paid a visit by three beautiful little Italian Greyhounds and their lovely owner who was sharing with us how amazing the breed is. With three ladies on the stand and three beautiful pooches in front of us it was very tempting to take one each and run!
See You Soon!
Following on from the success we are planning to do as many shows as possible out and about across the country and of course we are intending to be back at Crufts next year, even bigger and even better.
If you saw us at crufts and have any questions please get in touch via email, facebook or livechat.