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Stroud dog owner competing at Crufts 

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By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

A dog lover from Stroud grew up with dreams of attending Crufts, so she could hardly believe her luck when invited back for a second time along with much-loved cockapoo Tessa.

Jess Vines, 28, came by Tessa, now aged four, in 2020. The arrival of her canine friend came just before the global pandemic and so proved very timely.

The pair attended Crufts for the first time last year and Jess suspects that this year’s return will be even more special.

“I can’t wait, I keep pinching myself to make sure that it’s not a dream,” she said.

“I’m really excited and feel more excited this year because I know what to expect, having been there last year.

IMG 0694 | Stroud dog owner competing at Crufts 

“I can’t wait to go back and do some more demonstrations with her.  I’m really grateful to local trainer Dean who owns Kanetex Dog Training and Walking Services for training and supporting us and recommending us to the display organisers.”

Vines and Tessa will take centre stage in the working trials display, featuring in the NEC’s main arena at 10.45am on Sunday 10th March.

Vines, who works for Stonehouse-based MRG Systems, says she will never take for granted the opportunity to participate in an event she has long followed remotely.

“I never actually managed to make it in person but I used to watch it on television every year from the age of 13 onwards” she said.

IMG 0692 | Stroud dog owner competing at Crufts 

“Even after going last year I watched it back. I used to love watching the dog sports, the Agility and the Flyball, and seeing dogs compete.

“I used to find it exhilarating to watch and that’s what inspired me really to get my own dog and have a go at doing it myself.”

While Tessa may not be vying for a prize, she offers to Jess and the people she meets support, companionship and hope – just some of the qualities this year’s four Kennel Club hero dog award finalists have been recognised for.

“A lot of working trial dogs are your typical working breeds like German Shepherds, Border Collies or Labradors so she’s probably not the type of dog you’d most associate with doing working trials, but she is essentially two working breeds crossed together,” said Vines.

“I really like being able to show that cross breeds can do it too and prove that any dog can get involved in and excel at doing dog sports.

“Getting her when we did was really beneficial for me and my partner James, because it gave us something positive to focus on in what was a difficult time for everybody.

“Going out every day and exercising was so good for us and still is. It’s really good for clearing the mind especially after a day at work.

“I’m also really lucky that my office allows me to take her in to work and just before Covid I took her in when she was a puppy.

“I still do it now and my colleagues are more interested in seeing her than me. If I go in without her now, as soon as I walk through the door they say, ‘Where’s Tessa? Good morning Jess too, but where’s Tessa?’

“They love her, she’s the Chief Morale Officer.”

Crufts, run by The Kennel Club, is a unique celebration of happy, healthy dogs and of the loving relationship that they enjoy with their owners. Crufts is held from 7-10 March 2024 at the NEC Birmingham. Viewers can follow all the action and highlights on Channel 4, and for further information and tickets visit crufts.org.uk

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