I have always loved dogs. Due to the family work circumstances, I was raised by my uncle in our country house. As a child that place was like heaven to me. I had my own space, a swimming pool, a quite a few square metres of land to roam free, and animals. My favourite ones always were the dogs.

We had three dogs: Johnny, a medium-long haired Pekingnese; Fosi, a very jealous sausage dog (Dachshund); and Margaret Thatchet, the bravest of German Shepherds (Yes, there’s a story behind the name: She was abandoned by her previous owners and I found her. You could tell that she had been mistreated but she was still a very strong bitch: an iron lady, Margaret Thatcher)

Some of my warmest childhood memories are filled with dogs.

My love for dogs has never stopped. I no longer live in a country house though, but a small maisonnette where I know it wouldn’t be fair to keep a dog in. Dogs need space, more than humans do, and I don’t have the space. Another reason why I can’t afford a pet at the moment is because both Jon and I work full time and dogs aren’t like cats that you can leave on their own for 8-9 hours.

Crufts Logo So I decided that I would definetely enjoy going to Crufts this year. Crufts is an international show for dogs which helds several competitions and chooses a “Best in Show” dog at the end, which is basically the ultimate prize a dog could win.

I bought tickets for Friday and Saturday. I knew that going on Sunday could be a real pain, as everybody would turn up for that day, being that day that the winners are chosen. So we took Friday off and headed to Birmingham.

Friday was great. I had never been to such a place, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The exhibition really blew my expectations away. The NEC is probably one of the biggest Exhibition Centres in the UK, with about 15 halls and the Arena (which on its own can hold 11,000 people!) Crufts occupied 5 of those Halls and the Arena. Really big. The NEC was pretty busy but you had enough space to roam around. There were so many stalls selling dog-related products (you would never imagine how many things you can buy for your pet) and also lots of dog-demostrations (like the Dog good citizen scheme). But for me the best bits were the “Discover Dogs” section and the Dog Agility competitions.

On the other hand, Saturday wasn’t so great. It was far too busy for my liking. You had to queue for the toilet, for the cash point, for the food stalls, to get anywhere! We managed to see a few more dogs and demonstrations, but when we tried to go to the Arena the queue was so big that we decided against going in the end. A real shame, because I really wanted to see the Heel Dance and a few more Flyball competitions.

Another lowdown of the whole trip was that I couldn’t take the amazing pictures that I had in mind. I don’t specially like taking pictures with flash (plus we thought the owners of the dogs wouldn’t appreciate that) so I tried to take all my pictures in manual mode, which didn’t really work as the ambience light was rubbish. Even with the tripod it was pointless as the dogs wouldn’y stay still for me! I don’t think I managed to take more than 5 decent pictures in the end. I was so disappointed that I didn’t even take my camera with me the second day.

Afghan Hound at Crufts 2008So, conclusion: I’ve you ever want to go to Crufts, don’t go on the weekend. It’s far too busy. But apart from that, it is a lovely event that everybody who likes dogs should experience at least once in their lives.

Panic Room

I had already seen Panic Room when it originally came out, but I watched it again last night on DVD.

And I liked it again, I mean, it was okay. It is not one of the titles I would put under “My 100 favourite films of all time” but it was an enjoyable watch. Especially because of the very good performance of Jodie Foster.

The plot is very basic: Divorced (or separated) middle aged woman and teenage daughter move into this four-storey house which has got a “panic room”: a room where to hide if someone breaks into the house. And guess what. Yes, three guys break in. They are looking for some money (a few million dollars) that are hidden guess where, yes, in the panic room. And the rest you can imagine: The mother and daughter go and hide in the panic room, the thieves try and try to get into the room, the daughter happens to be a diabetic and suffers a fit when she’s all stressed and deshydrated.

Out of the three thieves worth mentioning the perfomance of Forest Whitaker, who is meant to be the good one among the bad ones. Also worth mentioning how ugly Jared Leto looked in the film (I won’t mention his acting, there’s not much to mention about it). Those plaits in his hair were just aweful. C’mon, he was meant to be a rich guy in the film, the grandson of a multimillionaire… You would have thought that the costume/art department would have something better in mind for a such an attractive guy.

The film is directed by David Fincher, who is the director or Se7en. I think Se7en is the type of film that one would never repeat the success of. Fincher makes a very good attempt at trying with Panic room, but I’m not a film critic so I won’t get into technical details.

An interesting bit of trivia is that Maynard James Keenan (singer of Tool and A Perfect Circle) was offered the role of Raoul (one of the baddies) but he turned it down due to other commitments. Shame, it would have been interesting to see him.

The Cheekiest of Chicas