Which dog will have its day at Crufts 2017?
We can’t believe it’s a year since lovable Bilbo Baggins, a Cockapoo from Surrey, was crowned HiLife PAT Dog of the Year at Crufts.
The past 12 months have whizzed by and on Friday, the 2017 winner will be revealed. For more than a decade, we have been the proud sponsor of this award, which celebrates some of the country’s most kind-hearted canines. The dogs and their owners are volunteers with Pets as Therapy (PAT), a charity that brings cheer to people in schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons through pet visits.
All of the finalists are inspirational and we’re glad we don’t have to choose between them. But there can only be one winner so before they enter the famous Crufts arena we thought we’d celebrate all six finalists.
Sausage the Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Hailing from Jersey, Sausage is a regular at St. Ewolds residential home and works with people suffering from phobias. He has even helped one man to overcome his fear of dogs.
Owner Angie told us: “If he senses that someone is having a bad week or has been unwell, he spends more time with them. One lady, who is 102-years-old, loves it when he does the ‘Sausage roll’.”
Daisy the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Each week, Daisy, from Gillingham, visits three primary schools as part of the Pets As Therapy Read2Dogs scheme. Alongside this, she visits the local hospital, Westminster Memorial in Shaftesbury, which includes the Weldmar Hospice. As if that wasn’t enough, she also visits Fives Court Residential Care Home, where she recently received ‘The Order of St John Care Trust’ appreciation award.
Barbara, her owner, says: “It is the most rewarding and privileged job to be involved in. She brings joy and pleasure to everyone she meets, sometimes making real positive emotional and behavioural changes to their lives.”
Rocco the Chocolate Labrador
Whether he is going to a care home for disabled adults or listening to children read at a primary school, gentle Rocco is always busy. This Chocolate Lab from Rugby also visits the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby and has attended Warwick University to help the students cope with their pre-exam stress.
“Everybody who knows Rocco says what a wonderful laidback dog he is,” explains his owner Hillary.
“He is often called ‘a gentleman’ by the fellow dog walkers we know. Everyone is immensely proud of his achievements.”
Devon the Crossbreed
Devon is well-known in his hometown of Newport thanks to his visits to Able Radio, the Alzheimer’s Society and two local schools, where she listens to the children read. As well as this, she makes monthly visits to the Newport Stroke Club.
Proud owner Julie says: “She is extremely gentle, with one person even saying she has ‘the most beautiful and calming eyes’. The Read2Dogs scheme is an amazing thing for the children to be a part of. Devon is there as a listener, she passes no judgement on the youngsters and offers comfort and support to those who may be struggling.”
Janna the Lhasa Apso Crossbreed
For the past five years, lovable Janna has been visiting schools as part of the Read2Dogs scheme, to help improve confidence and literacy skills in young people. She also visits nursing homes and the local children’s hospice, but due to her age and a heart condition, she has now had to slow down a bit.
Lovable Janna now enjoys a comfortable life in Worcester – but that wasn’t always the case, as her owner Kathleen explains:
“When we found Janna abandoned in a bush in Tenerife, she was malnourished and mistreated. Once I saw the effect she had on people, I nominated her to become a PAT Dog. I remember one little boy who couldn't communicate very well; he was screaming and couldn’t be calmed down, so I lay Janna down next to him to stroke her. The crying stopped and a great big smile came across his face. Janna didn’t leave his side until he was fast asleep.”
Georgie the Chihuahua
Tiny Georgie, from Harlow, is a favourite at the neuro unit of Rivers Hospital in Sawbridgeworth, and he also visits three care homes and adult learning clubs.
“When Georgie visits the neuro unit of the hospital, he often interacts with people who have suffered brain damage,” owner Terrence explained.
“He sits on their bed and the reactions that the nurses record are very positive.”
The award ceremony will take place at 11.25am – and we’ll be announcing the results on our Facebook and Twitter pages shortly afterwards.
The winner of this year’s HiLife PAT Dog of the Year Award will receive £500, along with a three months’ supply of HiLife dog food while the runners-up will receive £100 each plus a month’s worth of HiLife dog food.