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Budgie set for award

A Pekingese Lhaso Apso cross from Westbury has been named as a finalist in a national competition... as a reward for always using his ears!

Five-year-old Budgie is a hearing dog for his deaf companion Tracy Lewis, and has been nominated for the positive changes he's brought to her life. He will line up alongside 14 other dogs at Newbury Racecourse on September 2 for the Tails of Achievement Awards, organised by dog and cat food manufacturer James Wellbeloved.

Miss Lewis, 31, of Haynes Road, Westbury, has had Budgie by her side for four years and says she finds it hard to express how much he means to her. She said: "He's made such a massive difference to my life in so many different ways. Having him has made me a much more confident and outgoing person and he's given me a real sense of self worth and independence, because before I got him I hadn't lived on my own.

When Budgie needs to tell me he can hear a sound, he will come up to me and scrabble with his front paws to get my attention and will then lead me to the sound. If he's heard a dangerous sound, like a smoke alarm going off, he gets my attention and will then lay on the ground as a way of warning me of danger."

Miss Lewis and Budgie are members of the Frome Dog Training Club, where they take part in agility training, and it is through their involvement in the club that Budgie was nominated for the Tails of Achievement Awards.

Carol Scott, a trainer at the club, said: "Tracy and Budgie are such a pleasure to work with, the bond between them is unbreakable. I'm so pleased they have reached the final."

A package of prizes is on offer for the winner and 14 runners-up at the awards, but Miss Lewis says whether the judges put Budgie in first or 15th place, she will be proud of him and thankful for the improvements he has brought to her life.