FOUR-LEGGED friends from across south Cumbria are preparing to compete in the world's most famous dog show.

Thousands of pooches and their owners will be heading to the NEC Birmingham for Crufts 2023, which will take place between March 9 and 12.

Competitors include Zoe King, who lives in Barrow, and her Japanese Spitz Leo.

The Mail: Zoe King with her five-year-old Japanese Spitz LeoZoe King with her five-year-old Japanese Spitz Leo (Image: Zoe King)

This will be the pair's fourth time at Crufts with five-year-old Leo placing second in his class in 2019 and third in 2020.

"I'm excited for it," said Zoe. "It's always good to see friends.

"Leo always enjoys meeting the public, he always gets plenty of cuddles when he's out of the ring.

"He's got a really nice temperament, he loves that side of it as well."

The Mail: Leo at Crufts 2022Leo at Crufts 2022 (Image: Zoe King)

Anna-Marie Blenkarn, who lives in Dalton, is entering her Whippet puppy Louie.

This will be Anna-Marie's first time showing at the event having often gone as a spectator with her late mum.

"Crufts is special to me because I used to always go there with my mum as spectators," she said. "I lost my mum 20 years ago and I stopped going, like you do, and then six weeks ago I lost my dad.

"Just before Christmas, my dad had said to me 'I think I'll go to crufts with you this year'.

"I don't care what place we get, it's just special going."

The Mail: Anna-Marie's dog LouieAnna-Marie's dog Louie (Image: Sent by Anna-Marie Blenkarn)

Louie, whose KC name is Penwincoed Major North, qualified for Crufts at his first-ever Kennel Club show, the Scottish Kennel Club show in October.

"It was his first outing and he got two first places," said Anna-Marie.

The pair are regulars at Barrow Ringcraft, who have helped teach and advise Anna-Marie.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jane Lloyd for breeding him, and my family for supporting us," she said.

"This one is for my mum and dad who will be looking down on us.

"You're never too old to follow your dream."

The Mail: Whippet LouieWhippet Louie (Image: Anna-Marie Blenkarn)

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Sandra Gibson, who owns Shampooch at StudioK9 in Windermere, is no stranger to Crufts and has attended the event annually for the last forty years.

This year she will be showing her Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, father-and-daughter Jody and Asta.

The Mail: Pyrenean Mountain Dogs Jody and AstaPyrenean Mountain Dogs Jody and Asta (Image: Sandra Gibson)

At Crufts 2022, Sandra added another title to her dog showing portfolio with her now eight-year-old pooch Jody winning veteran dog then Best Pyrenean Mountain Dog veteran overall.

She said Jody’s win was her 25th first prize at Crufts and Sandra is hoping to be successful once again this year.

The Mail: Sandra Gibson with JodySandra Gibson with Jody (Image: Sandra Gibson)

It will be 16-months-old Asta's first time at the event.

"It's the greatest show to meet up with friends from here and abroad," said Sandra.

"I'm looking forward to showing on the prestigious green carpets again."

The Mail: This will be Asta's first time at CruftsThis will be Asta's first time at Crufts (Image: Sandra Gibson/Adam Wilcock Photography)