by Annette Kellow 

This week I was invited to the National Pet Show held in E14 by Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, a yearly show in which they host an array of animals with an entertaining and educational factor.

I arrived at Excel early and was ushered through to a large auditorium which looked like pet heaven with many different arenas, stands and varieties of animals.

Luckily I was given a clear map of where to go and what to see so I headed straight to the dog area where I watched 30 big yellow retrievers on show, who were part of The Golden Retriever Display Team. They were so obedient, sitting and turning on cue to the music (Could It Be Magic by Take That was in full force) and each had its owner leading them along, whom they doted upon. I couldn't imagine my dog being so good even when treats are involved!

I then went to the hen area. Fresh Start For Hens rehouse ex-commercial hens which have care centres across the country. These particular birds would otherwise be killed or left unwanted as when they stop laying eggs they are deemed to be useless and often owners do not want to pay for them anymore. Fresh Start For Hens look after them and care for them, then they are rehoused with new individuals who are wanting hens as pets or companion animals. I think the highlight of my day was cuddling a sweet hen who snuggled into my lap then swiftly fell asleep!

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I also visited the small furries Theatre, the secret rabbit garden, birds of prey arena and miniature horses paddock- I even had a parrot who started having a little light hearted conversation with me!

The National Pet Show has an in depth educational side to it too. You can learn about the care of animals including dogs and find out how rescue services work.

Professor Noel Fitzpatrick had many talks throughout the day with up-to-date information on a variety of animals. He shared his insight on exploring the incredible bond between human and pets alike and how they help in many areas of life- as a companion, a working dog, police dogs and how you can learn from each other.

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Caring for a pet is a rewarding experience but he explained the importance of educating yourself before taking on an animal- there were many talks on the day for people interested in learning about specific species.

For any doting pet owner who enjoys treating their loved one (or even spoiling them to absolute bits!) there was also a wide variety of pet accessories, beds, treats and more toys than your pet would know what to do with. I came away with a few treats, balls and a rather fetching dog lead which my dog completely ignored when she smelt the other goodies on offer. As they say, whoever said that diamonds were a girls best friend never owned a dog!