FOUR-LEGGED friends from across Tynedale 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 Stephanie Bell, who lives in Haydon Bridge, and her German Shepherd Nala (KC name Paluka Yana), who she says is the "friendliest dog you'll ever meet".

Hexham Courant: Paluka YanaPaluka Yana (Image: Stephanie Bell)

Stephanie has previously gone to Crufts with dachshunds, but this year it will be one-year-old Nala's chance to shine.

"I'm really looking forward to it," said Stephanie, who works as a nurse and a college teacher. "Nala is amazing. She's been at two shows, and she qualified for Crufts at both. She's got a really good write-up so far so I'm hoping it goes well."

Hexham Courant: Nala with her owner Stephanie BellNala with her owner Stephanie Bell (Image: Stephanie Bell)

Emma Bone, who lives in Bellingham, is entering her Newfoundland Dom and Chow Chow's Story and Tumbleweed.

Emma and her husband Mark are the proud owners of 14 dogs, and found fame on Channel 4's Big Dog Britain.

Dom, whose unique 'bromance' with the family's miniature Shetland foal Sutton also featured in the Courant in 2021, placed first in a large class at Crufts 2021.

Hexham Courant: Newfoundland Dom with his best friend, Shetland pony SuttonNewfoundland Dom with his best friend, Shetland pony Sutton (Image: Emma Bone)

Dom, aka "Newfangled Bespangled", will be competing for the fifth year in a row. 

It is Black Chow Chow Tumbleweed's second year competing at Crufts.

The Russian import, whose KC name is "Ch-Dalen Nota Bene at Newfangled", achieved 1st place in her class at the show last year, which qualified her to compete again in 2023.

Hexham Courant: TumbleweedTumbleweed (Image: Emma Bone)

Red Chow Chow Story, aka "Notorious Star Once Upon a Time", is an Italian import and it will be his first time at Crufts.

"We can't wait," said Emma. "We've got 14 dogs here so as you can imagine we don't get out much!

"Crufts is our annual getaway."

Hexham Courant: StoryStory (Image: Emma Bone)

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Christine Fairbairn, who lives near Hexham, is entering Crufts with her two Chihuahuas Sally and Cally.

Christine is also no stranger to Crufts, and has been showing dogs there for around 40 years.

"It's a huge event," she said. "All of the top dogs in the country will be there and there are a lot of exhibitors from all over the world that come over."

Hexham Courant: Cally qualifying for CruftsCally qualifying for Crufts (Image: Christine Fairbairn)

While she's keeping her fingers crossed for 18-month-old Sally and one-year-old Cally, Christine said "it's best just to go and hope for the best".

"The competition is very, very high and there are a lot of good dogs that come away with no awards.

"It's a very exciting day. There's a lot going on, it's not just the showing side, there's all kind of wonderful events and the stalls are fantastic."

Hexham Courant: Sally practicing for CruftsSally practicing for Crufts (Image: Christine Fairbairn)