Westminster beckons....but where are the Gordon Setters?
Dogs from all shades of the political spectrum are having their coats groomed, teeth brushed and are sharpening up their canine rhetoric in anticipation of the political showdown of the year – the Westminster Dog of the Year competition.
With not a spin doctor or focus group in sight, the competition provides the nation with the opportunity to see their MP or peer as a real human being – poop scoop bag and all.
Organised jointly by Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club, the competition celebrates the unique bond between man and dog – and aims to promote responsible dog ownership. The competition is open to all parliamentarians’ pooches, regardless of breed, creed or pawlitical persuasion. For the second year running, political journalists were also invited to compete.
Clarissa Baldwin, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, explains: “The Westminster Dog of the Year competition is so much more than a canine beauty pageant. The competition is strictly apolitical; judges will be looking for the dogs’ good deeds and devotion to their owner – rather than policies, opinions or ‘bottle’.”
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, continued; "The serious side of this competition is about MPs getting together with the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust to promote responsible dog ownership and develop a partnership on dog welfare issues. The competition itself is light-hearted and an entertaining day out - not least because of the unusual criteria on which the dogs are judges!"
Judges include Eric Martlew MP (owner of last year’s winner, Tag) plus Clarissa Baldwin and Caroline Kisko. There are two new classes to this year’s competition; Best Returning Entrant and Best Debutant. The trophy will be presented by Daisy McAndrew, Chief Political Correspondent for ITN.
This year’s competition sees entrants from the Conservative and Labour parties as well as Black Rod who will be taking part with his Labrador, Sugar. There will be a range of dogs present, from a Shih Tzu called Monty, to Lulu, the gentle giant Newfoundland!