SEVERAL Cumbrian dog owners are gearing up to battle it out for the top prizes and showcase their cherished canines at Crufts 2024.

The iconic competition is set to take place between Thursday, March 7, and Sunday, March 10 at the NEC Birmingham.

Alex Little from Brampton is one of the Cumbrians who will be in attendance and has been showing her dogs since 1971picking up countless accolades along the way, including several top prizes in the 1990s when her homebred Old English Sheepdog Champion Bobbington 'Latin Lover' was awarded four Challenge Certificates at the competition.

News and Star: Bobbington 'Latin Lover'Bobbington 'Latin Lover' (Image: Alex Little)Alex is now looking to replicate this success with a descendant of 'Latin Lover' who has already made a strong start to her showing career. 

She said: "Our current Old English Sheepdog named 'Angel' or Blairdon The Angels Share for Bobbington won a good Junior Class at Crufts in 2023 with strong competition from abroad and she was only 13 months old. 

"She will be showing at this year’s Crufts in the Limit Bitch Class.

News and Star: Alex Little and 'Angel' at Crufts 2023Alex Little and 'Angel' at Crufts 2023 (Image: Alex Little)"Of course, no matter how good the dog looks, performance on the day plays a huge part in success.  Our 'Angel’ sometimes likes to do her own thing so we will have to wait and see the outcome - but we do believe in Angels.  

"That said we all take the best dogs home with us, win or lose and ours are firstly and foremost our beloved everyday companions."

Another local dog owner who will be looking to build on past successes at this year's competition in the West Midlands is Carlisle's Joanne Briggs. 

Joanne's Shih Tzu's Jaime, named after the fictional character Jaime Lannister, and Pauline, named after Grace Kelly of Monaco's granddaughter Pauline Ducruet.

News and Star: Jamie and PaulineJamie and Pauline (Image: Joanne Briggs)Jaime, or Warathwaite The Kingslayer as he is known in competition, is currently the UK's number one Shih Tzu and is also a Belgian champion

Ahead of this year's Crufts Joanne, who got into dog breeding and training after picking up an injury whilst running 14 years ago, is fully focused on enjoying the festivities.

She said: "This year I am taking Pauline, she is five years old so this will probably be her last Crufts, and Jamie, who is three, probably has a few more years in him but I go with an open mind, I don't go thinking I am going to win this, I go to enjoy myself.

News and Star: Whilst, many attendees at Crufts 2024 will be looking to win the top prizes, some owners are looking to show off their dear companions, with Penrith couple Neal and Susan Joyce, who began showing at Crufts in 2011, being no exception.

The pair's English Springer Spaniels Gracie and Elfie will be showing, however, will also feature in Cruft's Discover Dogs Day which will showcase over 200 breeds, something that Susan is looking forward to.

News and Star: Neal Joyce with Gracie and Elfie in the Lake DistrictNeal Joyce with Gracie and Elfie in the Lake District (Image: Susan Joyce)She said: "We are just pet showers, we are not a big kennel, we have got two Springer Spaniels who will both be going this year.

"The other thing we will do is a day in Discover Dogs and we will promote our lovely breed breed. It's nice to give something back, it's good fun, and you get to show off your dogs.

News and Star: Gracie at Crufts' Discover DogsGracie at Crufts' Discover Dogs (Image: Susan Joyce)"It is a big event and it is amazing, there is nothing like Crufts, you get that buzz when you walk into the halls, it is iconic and unique."