Tracy Brabin MP has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the heart-warming stories of love and companionship constituents have submitted for her inaugural Batley and Spen Dog of the Year competition.
The MP launched the competition earlier this month to celebrate the many benefits to physical and mental health that dog ownership can bring – and the entries came flooding in.
Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin said: “The response to the competition has been overwhelming and I thank each and every one of you who has taken the time to enter.
“Some of the stories have almost had me in tears and the passion people have for their pooches is incredibly moving.
“Picking three winners was a difficult task as all those who entered had lovely stories to tell, but in the end we had to be ruthless!
“A dog can offer so much in terms of physical and mental health and can be a fantastic antidote to loneliness which is why I firmly believe it is something we should celebrate.
“Now, all that remains is to announce the thoroughly deserving winners – I hope it will bring you as much pride as I felt when my faithful Rocky scooped Westminster Dog of the Year.”
In first place is adorable Labrador/Springer Spaniel cross Mikey who has changed his owners’ lives.
Owner Joanne, from Heckmondwike, said of the 21-week-old puppy: “He is important to myself and my partner as we have struggled to start a family of our own and have suffered a number of miscarriages in the last few years. He has brought a spring back to our step and a love we never thought was possible to achieve.”
In second place is faithful Collie/ Greyhound cross Tara who joined her family from the Dog’s Trust in 2013 in a case of “love at first sight”.
Katie, owner of the 11-year-old lurcher, said: “She came to live with us at a very low point in my life. I had suffered a stroke which had totally knocked my self-confidence and I realised that I was not invincible. Having Tara gave me something to care about and something to love.”
Last but not least is the tear-smelling Irish red setter, Merlin, who is a hit with all who meet him.
Owner Martin, from Batley, said of the 6-year-old: “He is a much-loved family member, a great companion and is hugely beneficial for mental wellbeing and physical health. He can smell tears, and will bound up the stairs and try to lick them off your cheek.”
Each of the winners will receive a pair of tickets to Crufts, courtesy of the Kennel Club, and a box of doggie treats gifted to Ms Brabin by Mars Pet Care and Treats.
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Congratulations to Mikey on winning the very first Batley and Spen Dog of the Year, he and his owners are a perfect example of how quickly a strong bond can develop between dogs and humans.
“We must also commend runners up Tara and Merlin and all of the other local dogs entered this year. It must have been a very difficult decision to choose just one winner from such a great group of dogs.”