Who will be crowned HiLife PAT Dog of the Year at Crufts?
Crufts, the most popular dog show in the world, is almost upon us and as well as marvelling at all those pampered pooches (how do they get their hair like that?) we will also be celebrating the ones who make a real difference to people’s lives.
Once again, we are delighted to sponsor the Pets As Therapy (PAT) HiLife PAT Dog of the Year award, which recognises some of the country’s most caring canines. For those who don’t know, PAT Dogs is an independently-funded charity with more than 5,000 volunteers who, along with their registered PAT dogs, visit schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons, bringing joy to the lives of thousands of people each day.
The six finalists, Petra, Bilbo, Droopy, Leo, Molly and another Leo, will all appear in the Crufts arena on 11 March, with the winner announced at a presentation ceremony afterwards. Thankfully we don’t have to choose the winner because we couldn’t possibly pick one so for now, let’s meet our dedicated dogs and hear their heart-warming tales.
Golden Retriever Petra, from Ayrshire, visits three care homes where she treats the residents to plenty of cuddles. She is also a regular at a local school, helping the youngsters to improve their reading. Petra particularly loves working with disabled children and has formed a close bond with a two-year-old little girl.
Bilbo, a good-natured Cockapoo from Ashstead in Surrey, is a regular at Cherry Trees in East Clandon, which offers respite to children with disabilities. Here, the youngsters take him for walks or he sits on their laps while they stroke or pat him. Equally happy in the company of older people, he is also a firm favourite at Furze Hill Lodge Care Home.
Loving Leo is a Golden Retriever from Southampton who visits as many as 100 young patients a week at Southampton Children’s Hospital. Leo offers a sense of calm to the children and families he meets, making their lives a little happier during what can be a very traumatic time.
Known as the Pied Piper because the children always like to follow him around, Droopy loves to visit primary schools and listen to the youngsters read. The Basset-Cavalier cross, from Morecambe in Lancashire, also spends time at Unique Kidz, an after-school and holiday club for youngsters with disabilities.
Big-hearted Border Collie Molly brings smiles to everyone she meets, according to her owner. Currently, she divides her time visiting residential homes close to where she lives in Marlborough, Wiltshire and an eating disorders ward in a local hospital, where she offers the paw of friendship to those going through a difficult time.
Last but not least, Leo, a Spaniel, has plenty of young fans in his home village of Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, thanks to the time he spends listening to them read at the local primary school. When he is not at school, Leo provides comfort to the residents of Breadstone Care Home, interacting with those who can no longer keep their own dog and going for short walks with them.
The HiLife PAT Dog of the Year Award winner will be presented with £500, plus three months’ supply of HiLife dog food during a special ceremony at Crufts, while the runners-up will each receive £100 and a month’s worth of HiLife dog food.
Good Luck Everyone!