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For some, February in London is just another of the city's drabber months. But for dog fanciers it is something very special, the month of Cruft's Dog Show, held in Kensington's Olympia, which draws some 50,000 people to look, exhibit, buy and sell in what is now the world's largest canine market place. When Charles Cruft organized the first modest event 71 years ago, it was mainly to promote the sale of dog food and give gamekeepers some welcome big-city diversion. Then it grew like a pampered pup and before the end of the century was graciously stamped with royal approval; Queen Victoria entered some of her pets.
Now run by the Kennel Club, it continues to be held in the same month and is still considered an annual holiday for gamekeepers as well as a magnet for owners and breeders all over the world. Although quarantine laws keep foreign dogs out, they do not keep British dogs in. Last year, as a result of the show, almost 4,000 dogs were exported, half of them going to the U.S.
Chow breeder, 86-year-old Florence Sparrow, holds Kowa Mit-zee. She heads Thames Estuary Canine Society.
Off-Duty judge, 60-year-old Captain Hugh Price-Jones, holds wife's winning miniature poodle, Frenches Prince Hal.
Off-Duty horsewoman, 32-year-old Audrey Salisbury, minds mother's Dandie Dinmont terriers.
Retired trainer, 70-year-old Scotsman John Forbes, has gained international reputation for his work with gun dogs.
Relaxed president, 69-year-old A. Johnston Hay, heads Aberdeen kennel club and raises cockers.