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Crufts 2013 begins at NEC

Crufts was established in 1891 by Charles Cruft Credit: PA

Around 25,000 dogs and their owners are heading to Birmingham today for Crufts 2013.

The opening day will feature various dog displays and competition finals, including Friends for Life, the Agility Championships and Best at Show.

Crufts 2013 has attracted more than 2,000 dogs from overseas for the first time. A total of 2,131 dogs from 41 different countries will take part at the show, including dogs from Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, none of which have previously been represented.

Young Crufts competitors arrive before Thursday's launch

Crufts was established in 1891 by Charles Cruft Credit: Crufts 2013

Young Kennel Club members have arrived at Crufts 2013 today ahead of the show's launch on Thursday (March 7).

The event, which takes place at Birmingham's NEC, is the largest dog show in the world. This year will see more than 25,000 dogs competing.

Abbie Reynolds from Wootton Wawen in Warwickshire, arrived today with her dog, Marley, to take part in the Young Kennel Club's 'Heelwork to Music Freestyle' competition.

Twelve year old Abbie Reynolds from Wootton Wawen and her dog Marley Credit: Crufts 2013

According to a recent survey by the Kennel Club, dogs are becoming more intelligent following Ashleigh and Pudsey's success on Britain's Got Talent.

The pain from Wellingborough won ITV's talent contest in 2012.

Crufts 2013 has attracted more than 2,000 dogs from overseas for the first time. A total of 2,131 dogs from 41 different countries will take part at the show, including dogs from Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, none of which have previously been represented.

Marley riding a skateboard Credit: Crufts 2013

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WM Police officer and his dog up for Crufts award

West Midlands Police officer Dan Thomas, and his retired police dog Janus, are up for a prestigious award at this year's Crufts.

The pair have been entered into the Friend for Life category after Janus helped with the arrest of 285 crime suspects in four years.

Crufts has released a video of all the finalists in the category, including a dog that helped save the lives of two soldiers in Afghanistan and survived capture by the Taliban.

West Midlands Police pair to take centre stage at Crufts

Dan Thomas with best friend Janus Credit: WM Police

Dog handler Dan Thomas and his retired police dog Janus, will take centre stage at Crufts this year, after being shortlisted in the event’s popular Friends for Life competition.

Due to Janus' policing excellence, 285 crime suspects have been arrested since 2008. He also assisted in a further 157 captures.

Janus retired to live with PC Thomas at the end of last year.

It’s the first time a West Midlands Police dog and its handler have been nominated for the award. The pair are up against some tough competition including a dog that helped save the lives of two soldiers in Afghanistan and survived capture by the Taliban.

“The bond between dog and owner is special but the bond between a working dog and handler is amazing. I've spent more time with him over the last few years than my own family," said Dan Thomas.

“He has depended on me and I’ve equally depended on him many times when he’s come to my aid and fended off violent offenders."

Crufts runs from 7-10 March at the NEC.