There was a worthy winner in Westminster today, as Rocky, a seven-year-old Labrador belonging to Batley and Spen Labour MP Tracy Brabin, was crowned 2017 Westminster Dog of the Year.
The 25th annual Westminster Dog of the Year competition, organised by Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club, took place today (Thursday 26th October), in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster. Rocky showed dogged determination as he battled it out to defeat other ‘paw-litical’ opponents to win the coveted title.
The MPs entering the competition campaigned hard, canvassing for votes from the public before meeting the expert judges to discuss their dog’s heroic deeds and acts of devotion. This year, the event focused on the importance of training and behaviour and the life skills it arms both dog and owner with.
Winning MP, Tracy Brabin, said of her beloved dog:
“I am delighted to have won Westminster Dog of the Year with my terrific pooch Rocky. He had such a fantastic day, meeting all the other ‘paw-litical’ candidates and I’m really thrilled that he managed to wag his way to victory. I am very proud that he has been part of an event that promotes responsible dog ownership.”
The judging panel – Steve Jenkinson of the Kennel Club, Graeme Robertson from Dogs Trust, 2016 winning owner Jonathan Reynolds MP – spent the morning with dogs from different political persuasions and ambitions.
Commenting on the reasons Rocky was selected as the 2017 Westminster Dog of the Year, Graeme Robertson, Chairman of Dogs Trust says:
“We are thrilled with the number of MPs and commendable canines who competed for the title of Westminster Dog of the Year 2017. It’s always wonderful to see the bond between dogs and their owners and Rocky and Tracy really stood out for this very reason, not to mention their ‘paw-litical’ prowess. I would like to thank the MPs and their devoted dogs for taking part.”
Steve Jenkinson from the Kennel Club continued:
“It was such a joy to see Rocky and Tracy and their relationship really struck a chord with us and they are clearly popular with their constituents too. Having deliberated over so many wonderful pooches we decided that Rocky truly deserves the title of Westminster Dog of the Year.”
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Gardiner said:
“It was fantastic to see so many happy healthy dogs bounding around Westminster this morning. The UK is a nation of animal lovers and we are proud to have some of the highest welfare standards in the world, and events like these are important in promoting responsible pet ownership.
“I am pleased that around 95% of dogs are now microchipped since we made it compulsory eighteen months ago. We have also recently announced tougher controls on dog breeding to better protect thousands of puppies, and last month we put forward plans to increase the maximum penalty for animal cruelty to five years in prison to make clear that abuse will not be tolerated.”
To further echo this year’s theme of training and behaviour teams from Dogs Trust’s newly launched Dog School alongside the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme were on hand to offer advice and training tips. Collectively the projects aim to educate dog owners across the UK on the importance of training, to not only ensure a happier, healthier dog, but also to strengthen the bond between owner and dog.
Leading the opposition in second place was Bonnie, a Beagel owned by Rebecca Pow MP for Taunton Deane, with a place in the trophy cabinet awarded to Ted, a Cockapoo owned by Maria Miller MP for Basingstoke in third.
In addition to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards, the competition also had a winner decided solely from the public vote which were Boomer and Corona, both Border Collies owned by the MP for Nottingham North, Alex Norris.