Known as the greatest dog show on earth, Crufts is the largest show of its kind in the world.

Organised and hosted by the Kennel Club, Crufts is held at the NEC in Birmingham in March each year and is a true celebration of dogs.

Attracting thousands of competitors and hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, the show is also broadcast to an international TV audience.

For those involved in the world of show dogs, competing in the ring on the famous Crufts green carpet is always special and Derbyshire-based Kim Hodge, who lives near Ashbourne, was especially delighted this year to have five of her beautiful Rhodesian ridgebacks qualify for the 2023 show.

Great British Life: Kim with Major after gaining second place in his class at Crufts (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)Kim with Major after gaining second place in his class at Crufts (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)

The five dogs, Ashten, Seré, Skye, Erik (bred by Kim but now owner shown) and eight-month-old puppy Major ensured a long, busy but fulfilling and rewarding day in the famous ring.

‘It’s a lot of work to get into the halls with multiple dogs and bags,’ says Kim.

‘But it’s definitely worth all the effort for the excitement and pride of showing off your dogs on the green carpet. It is wonderful having a movement breed and the space to move them.’

Kim, who works in Derby, has owned Rhodesian ridgebacks for almost 20 years and breeds, owns, exhibits and judges the breed both nationally at championship level as well as internationally.

Great British Life: Charlotte with her own dog Jimmy and their rosettes (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)Charlotte with her own dog Jimmy and their rosettes (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)

Rhodesian ridgebacks are powerful dogs and renowned for both their loyalty and intelligence and both these characteristics came to the fore as Kim delighted crowds with them at Crufts.

Kim decided to take three days annual leave around the show dates, two beforehand to prepare and, wisely, a day afterwards to get some much-needed rest!

‘It’s a long day in the venue,’ reveals Kim. ‘You get asked lots of questions from the public, which is lovely, and there’s also plenty of standing around waiting for ring times.’

The youngest of Kim’s dogs, Major, arrived at her Derbyshire home back in October last year, following a gruelling 48-hour journey which saw Kim drive to Amsterdam in the Netherlands to collect him from his breeder, who had flown in from Finland with him.

Great British Life: Kim at home with Seré and Skye (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)Kim at home with Seré and Skye (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)

Settling in immediately in his new Derbyshire surroundings, Major was completely at home from the start and qualified for Crufts 2023 at his first ever UK championship show back in January.

Kim’s long and busy show day began early, with Major being the first to compete.

As with everything, he took the hustle and bustle of Crufts in his stride and was placed second in his class, (Minor Puppy Dog), for male puppies aged six to nine months.

As the day progressed, Kim went on to achieve a third place in the Veteran Bitch Class with Seré whilst Ashten, handled by junior handler Charlotte Freudenreich, also from Derby, went on to make the cut from 39 to 15 in the Open Dog class.

Great British Life: Ashten, Major and Skye at play in the field at home (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)Ashten, Major and Skye at play in the field at home (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)

Charlotte then handled Ashten in the Young Kennel Club competition, held on the same day in Hall 3.

‘They make a fabulous team and Ashten, a gentle giant, adores Charlotte,’ concludes Kim. ‘It’s great and very impressive to see a junior so competently handling a large breed.’

Charlotte enjoyed a wonderful day at Crufts, not only handling Ashten, but also having great success with her own eight-month-old Basset Fauve de Bretagne, Jimmy, who won his class puppy (dog), best puppy (dog) and the reserve challenge certificate, proof if any was needed that there is much to look forward to for this very talented young team.

Crufts 2024 will take place at the NEC, Birmingham from Thursday March 7 to Sunday March 10.

Great British Life: Kim with Major (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)Kim with Major (Ruth Downing/Rural Pictures)