DOGS are wonderful creatures.

Unless you are terrified of them in which case you may view them quite differently.

But Spectator is definitely a fan, having owned a string of collies over the decades that have a space in this hardened heart alongside the rest of my immediate family, deceased or otherwise.

So where better to enjoy all the wonders of man’s best friend than the entirely inappropriately-named Darlington Dog Show, in Ripon?

But let’s not let get pedantic about geography.

Canny canines of all shapes and sizes descend on the show on an annual basis and strut their stuff in a manner to make Kate Moss and co do a double-take.

But to the show outsider, the world of Crufts-qualifiers can be a bewildering place.

There is an intensity to the showing and judging process that could bring out the hardest of hacks into a cold sweat.

To say that the competition is fierce would be a gross understatement.

The time, money and dog preening products invested in these show dogs is clear to see in every puffed-up poodle and silky smooth gun-dog that enters the ring.

Owners say that the dogs enjoy being in the ring and who are we to say otherwise?

Although there were some questionable hairdos on display at Ripon that Spectator would want no part of.

North Yorkshire is well-known for and rightly proud of its country show heritage and whilst cattle and sheep are nowhere to be seen, the Darlington Dog Show is a perfectly-coiffured gem in the summer calendar.