Meet four-year-old Jessica - the youngest dog handler at Crufts
A four-year-old girl is believed to be the youngest dog handler ever to compete at Crufts - with her pet terrier which is older than her.
Jessica Allen impressed the main arena with her five-year-old Australian Terrier Annie today and won the Good Citizens' Australian Terrier category.
Her dog handler mother Felicity Freer supported Jessica in the crowd, while her father Richard Allen was judging some Welsh Terriers nearby.
Jessica grew up with eight dogs and her grandmother Wendy Allen (69) is also involved in the shows.
Mrs Freer (34) told the Telegraph: "When we were showing in Windsor last year, Jessica won with Annie in her class. Then when I lost in the challenge with the same dog she was saying to me ‘oh mummy, even I could have done better than that.’
"Her headteacher gave her two days off to compete and she has loved every second.
"I said to her, about half an hour before she went out into the arena ‘look love, it doesn’t matter if you lose, it’s all about the competing’, but she just retorted back that there was no point competing unless you could win.
“As a competitive person myself I was delighted to here it."
Jessica will be back in the arena today with five-year old Australian Silky Terrier Cariad.
A spokesman for the Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, said Jessica could be the youngest person ever to compete in the adult arena, but they were unable to confirm it.
Mrs Freer added: "I’m so proud Jessica. It’s been such an amazing experience for her.
"It’s fantastic to see her following in her Dad’s footsteps – he won the Terrier group at least twice when he was a handler.
“Jessica has a lovely personality, and the dogs automatically warm to her.
“As soon as she could walk she was in with the puppies, talking to them, playing with them.
“Almost all her life we’ve been practicing in the kitchen, in the back yard.
“Other people have wanted Jessica to show their pups, which is the ultimate compliment.
“I’m looking to buy her an Australian Terrier for herself, so that she can compete again and train it herself.
“They are wonderful dogs, and have such a gentle way with children.”