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Crufts soldiers on*

Queen Alexandra on display at a dog show. Note the biscuit booth to the left.

Democracy always sells. So does aristocracy, and dog biscuits baked “By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen,” like the ones manufactured by an American entrepreneur named Spratt who helped to make Crufts a premier venue. From the start, and despite all pretenses to upholding higher causes, dog shows have been about selling things and putting on a good performance, and various gimmicks have been tried to enlarge the number of spectators and paying contestants. Charles Cruft, a clever impresario, went so far as to include several separate categories of stuffed taxidermy dogs so he could boast that his event had more classes, and class, than any other in England. Like aristocratic owners who might attend events in spirit only, dogs could be entered as mere husks of their former selves. Cruft, the father of the modern dog show, who was called “the British Barnum,” spared no expense in showing Queen Alexandra herself in an opulently furnished viewing box of her own, forcing spectators to wonder whether Her Highness or the dogs were on display. The logo Cruft chose for his prestigious show was a crown—set above the head of a Saint Bernard.

* soldier on = "to push doggedly forward" —

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