From pampering their pooches to 4am starts, dog-mad duo Royston Walkling and Yvonne Kent are making their final preparations for Crufts!
Dog owners up and down the country will be making their final preparations for the world famous dog show - a four day canine extravaganza that kicks off yesterday (Thursday March 9).
Amongst other qualifiers in the Rasen area are Yvonne Kent and Royston Walkling, who between them will be taking eight dogs to the prestigious competition.
With around 66 years of showing and judging experience between them - and quite a repertoire of different breeds - Mr Walkling and Ms Kent will once again be making their final preparations before making their way on the well-travelled route to the NEC Arena, Birmingham.
Ms Kent told the Mail: “I have been showing dogs since 1973, and judging at championship level since 1984.
“My dogs have got smaller over the years - I started out with pointers, to pugs, to dachshunds.
“I’ve bred and shown champions, and I hope to do well this year!”
While many of the dogs that Ms Kent shows are home grown, Mr Walkling’s canine comrades have come from much further afield.
He said: “My pointers, Jack and Flavio, came all the way from Australia and Spain.
“Renee, the cocker spaniel, is from Leeds - which is perhaps a bit boring after the other two!”
According to the dedicated duo, preparation for the biggest dog show in the world isn’t just about bathing and clipping.
Ms Kent said: “The dogs are exercised on and off the lead to build up muscle and fitness.
“They have to be fit for function.”
The dogs are also fed on a diet of raw meat and good quality kibbles for a shiny coat and healthy skin.
While the pointers and dachshunds are ‘bath-and-go’ dogs, cocker spaniel Renee requires a little more extensive beauty regime.
Mr Walkling said: “My wife has been trimming her over the past couple of weeks.
“She will have a final trim and be bathed on Friday night - and not allowed near anything muddy!”
Judges at the show won’t just be after a good-looking dog, but something ‘a little extra’ for the top prize.
Mr Walkling said: “The judges want to see good confirmation fitting the breed standard - but also the x-factor - a little je ne sais quoi that can’t be put into words.”