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TV | True North: Top Dog

Tracey Douglas from Dundonald.

With almost 30,000 dogs walking the iconic green carpet at the world’s largest international dog show, for competitive canine owners all roads lead to Crufts.

In a new True North film Top Dog, all is fur in love and war as we follow Northern Ireland’s most passionate exhibitors and take a behind the scenes look at the dog show circuit.

Tracey Douglas from Dundonald.

Tracey Douglas is a professional dog groomer from Dundonald and along with dad Alec has been involved with competitive dog showing all her life.

It takes a lot of hard work to get show ready and Tracey has high hopes Labrador Trooper will pick up a Best in Breed award at a Crufts qualifying event. Dog showing can be an expensive hobby and Tracey often ropes in friends and fiancé Myles Leonard to help at the various competitions she attends across the UK.

Gareth Smith and Kerry Blue Jimmy from Armagh.

Armagh man Gareth Smyth and his Kerry Blue Jimmy are mere pups when it comes to performing at dog shows. He enlists the help of daughter Annie and breeder Darwin Martin to get Jimmy ready for his big debut in the ring at the Blackpool Championships.

In Enniskillen, Steve Kennedy is passing on his handling expertise to niece Katie, one of the youngest competitors to make it to Crufts at the age of nine.

Steve Kennedy and Irish Terrier Rosie from Enniskillen.

Steve has dementia and describes being diagnosed as a blessing which led him to make some serious lifestyle changes.

While he spends most of his time at home with his wife and dogs, Steve still enjoys a bit of competition and brings Irish Terrier Rosie to the National Dog show in Stafford.

Michael McCartney and son Crawford.

Michael McCartney and his son Crawford are two of Northern Ireland’s most successful agility competitors and there is a distinct Manchester United theme when it comes to their Border Collies - Robbo, Denny and Scholsey - named after former players.

While Crawford has taken over agility training at the family dog centre, there is still life in the old dog yet when Michael steps in to help his son at the Lisburn and District show - the only Crufts qualifier in Northern Ireland.

Michael McCartney.

Expect showing of teeth and growling from these competitive owners as they show off their pedigree pets. Can they make it to Crufts to be crowned Top Dog?

True North: Top Dog, a Triplevision Production for BBC Northern Ireland and narrated by comedian Jimeoin, airs Tuesday 19 April at 10.45pm on BBC One Northern Ireland. Also available on BBC iPlayer.


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