Commonwealth Games athlete turned dog enthusiast makes Crufts debut

George, a Golden Retriever with Rachel Hunter from Ayr, Scotland.
George, a Golden Retriever with Rachel Hunter from Ayr, Scotland.

By James Reid at Crufts

A Commonwealth Games athlete turned dog enthusiast insists her Crufts debut will be the first visit of many.

Rachel Hunter finished seventh for Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games but has since ditched the hammer throw for hounds.

Hunter, 29, made her first appearance on the famous green carpet with four-year-old Golden Retriever George and while they did not win any prizes, the Ayr native is sure she will be back for more.

“We got binned, we got thrown straight out but we had a great time and they showed really well,” she laughed. “They had a lot of fun and that’s the main thing.

“We have learned so much. Initially when we got asked to show we thought how hard is that going to be? Turns out it’s pretty hard!

“It’s not just running around with your dog; the professionals make it look really easy!

“It’s been very overwhelming. I was really nervous, and my parents said just have fun, it’s your first time.

“Everyone has been really supportive. It’s been oddly quite emotional. You see it on the telly and people talk about the green carpet but to come down and do it, it’s so special.

“Everybody says your first Crufts will be your most special one and it has fully lived up to every expectation.”

Hunter showed with both George and two-year-old Harris having first become a dog owner after her grandfather gifted George to her mum for her 50th birthday.

But after her grandfather passed away a few months later, George took on a new role to heal the family at the most difficult of times.

And after taking their first steps into the world of dog shows, the pair have never looked back after qualifying for Crufts at the first attempts.

“He is just a natural,” she added. “He started when he was two and a lot of dogs start when they are puppies.

“We went to ringcraft classes, flung ourselves right into the deep end, and at George’s first show he qualified for Crufts.

“He’s a very special boy. I know it’s not going to be our last Crufts; we will be here for years to come.

“With athletics, doing that I have got the competition edge but here it’s just a great day out with your dog.

“Folk say such and such won, and I am like, but my dog had fun and I had fun and that’s what I do it for.”

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