A CRUFTS competitor from Tidworth celebrated her birthday with a second-placed finish – as she and her English Pointer George showed the transformative impact dogs can have on people’s lives.

Amber Henshaw turned 35 in style as four-year-old George finished runner-up in the Pointer breed category amidst a crowded field of 226.

The Wiltshire native boasts a storied history of showing at the world’s biggest dog show and was thrilled to be back at a place that offered her sanctuary during the toughest of times.

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“It’s not about the winning, it’s about qualifying to get here,” said Henshaw. “You can’t just enter; you have to qualify. 

“I am very fortunate that he has a stud book number which is a lifetime qualification for Crufts, and that’s a difficult thing to achieve. 

“The pressure is off, I don’t have to go to all of the shows, but I still do it because it’s part of who I am. 

“It’s my social thing; you get to see people, catch up with your friends, and share a unique opportunity to do what you do with your dog. It’s taught me a whole host of life skills.

“I had a hideous time at school and a hideous time growing up, and to come into an environment where I was accepted and I could just be myself, I didn’t have to put up a façade, I could just be me.  

“I was able to learn a lot about life in an unconventional way. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for this community that built me up and put me together.”

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English Pointer George’s podium is just another rosette for Henshaw to add to her collection, having first attended Crufts as a toddler.

Henshaw now has almost three decades of experience showing and was thrilled to pick up a particularly difficult prize on Thursday.

Crufts, run by The Kennel Club, is a unique celebration of happy, healthy dogs and of the loving relationship that they enjoy with their owners. Crufts is held from 9-12 March 2023 at the NEC Birmingham. Viewers can follow all the action and highlights on Channel 4 and More4, and for further information and tickets visit crufts.org.uk