The Dogs Of Shoreditch
“The assembling rainclouds could not thwart canine ambition last Sunday as owners and their dogs gathered in the grounds of St Leonard’s Shoreditch for the Dog Show. There was plenty of four-legged jostling around the registration table, a cacophony of yelps and barks and woofs shouting “Me! Me! Me!”, as dogs of all shapes and sizes showed their eagerness to be accorded the grand title of Ditch & Bitch or Who’s Who Look-Alike, Waggiest Tail or Handsome Hound – categories that have yet eluded Crufts. A matter of time, one can only say.
The show was organised by Sheona Alexander of the Hanbury Project, part of the Spitalfields Crypt Trust, founded nearly fifty years ago at Christ Church, Spitalfields, to offer shelter to homeless men and help with alcohol addiction. Now located on Shoreditch High St, the Trust remains an inspirational charity, running a drop-in centre, providing food and advice and referrals for those who wish to get clean from alcohol and drugs, as well as managing a hostel situated on the High St.
The Hanbury Project is an abstinence-based scheme for men and women which aims to integrate recovering addicts back into society. It offers classes in art, woodwork, literacy, upholstery, and an ever-popular gardening class that meets twice a week in the grounds of the church. So remember dog owners and walkers, whether you have a champion or a pooch, it is still “poop & scoop” in the well-loved and well-tended grounds of St Leonard’s Church.
And as the day came to a close and the spotlight fell upon Best-in-Show, dogs gathered at the arena to assess their chances of glory. Others were happy to stand back and make new friends, but there were a couple of feral chancers, too – aren’t there always? – sniffing around the throng to take advantage of any unsuspecting haunch … not quite the grand entry the judges had in mind.” – Sarah Winman
Tink (bit of Bichon Frisé, bit of Jack Russell, bit of Something Else) & Sandra & Paul (the real-life ‘Rev’ of St Leonard’s, Shoreditch)
We’ve had her since November. She was adopted from a refuge and, if I could, I would enter her into the Smelliest Dog in Shoreditch category.
Flopsy (Neapolitan Bull Mastiff crossed with a German Shepherd) & Gary
His full name is Prince Flopsy Tender of the Night Brent. He’s four and a half years old and we’ve been together since he was five weeks. He was fished out of the canal in Bow and I was told to look after him, and we’ve been together ever since. He’s just won Handsome Hound.
Pippin (Long-Haired Chihuahua) & Joanne
Pippin’s ten months old and is entered into the Handsome Hound, although he’s a little too young to be handsome as he’s still on the cute side. He loves climbing logs so I might get him to try the assault course.
Pipee, Kenji & Buster (Japanese Shiba Inu) & Delia
This is the second oldest breed in the world and the closest DNA to the Wolf. They’re quite feral with a strong hunting instinct, so you don’t want to let them off the lead. They’re entered into Rescue Me, because Pipee and Buster are rescue dogs, and Handsome Hound categories.
Fozzy Bear (Labradoodle) & Nick
I named him Fozzy Bear because he’s a right old muppet. He’s a hundred per cent Australian Service Dog and loves hanging out with his cat buddies.
Randall (Lurcher) & James & Debra
We’ve had him a year. He is a rescue dog that we got from the Essex police. He’s entered into the Heinz Variety, Rescue Me and the Handsome Hound. He’s got a good chance in those categories, particularly in the Handsome Hound!
(Went on to win Heinz Variety Cutie and Best in Show)
Cosmas (Beagle) & Marina
He’s two and a half years old and is entered into the Waggiest Tail category.
Ruby & Bugsie (Victorian Bulldogs) & Julia & Tony
Bugsie’s four and Ruby’s two years old. They’re boyfriend and girlfriend, and all our friends are waiting for them to mate but I’m holding her back till she’s a bit older. They’re like children, they like to sulk. Pan-fried liver is the secret.
Iris (Whippet) & Penny
I’ve entered her into Ditch & Bitch. She has a fair to good chance of winning, but she’s got her game face on at the moment, not giving too much away.
Bobby (Pug crossed with Chihuahua) & Pema and Eddie
She’s two and a half years old. She was entered into Ditch & Bitch and Best Dressed Dog, but it’s not about winning or losing it’s about taking part. We like to count how many “ahhs!” she gets walking along the street.
Hunter (lLng-Haired Chihuahua) & Katie
He’s two and a bit. His real name is Knight of the Hunter, and he’s entered into the Handsome Hound and Who’s Who Look-Alike competition.
(Went on to win second place in Handsome Hound)
Badger (Dachshund) & Mr Slang
She’s nine months old and lives in Clerkenwell. She’s known as the Belle of the Well but unfortunately didn’t win Ditch & Bitch - money’s obviously changed hands – and she didn’t win Best Dressed either, because she wouldn’t wear her hat with aplomb.
Dotty (Parsons Jack Russell Terrier crossed with Shih Tzu) & Beverly
I entered us into the Who’s Who Look-Alike category because we’re both tall and skinny.
Napoleon (Boxer crossed with American Bulldog) & Christopher
He’s seven years old and is a rescue dog from Battersea. I was going to enter him into Handsome Hound to lead the charge against the super pedigrees but it was full up. So I’ve entered him into Rescue Me. I think he’ll nail it although there’s a cute Staffi over there with a flapping tongue.
(Napoleon went on to win Rescue Me for the best rescue dog)
Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie