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British Dogs
Dog of the Year 2019/20

Meet Pepsi

Jacqui’s life was turned upside down when her husband was diagnosed with COVID-19. But thankfully Pepsi has been there every step of the way.

Pepsi is a 9-month-old female border collie. We knew that she was a great dog, but she really proved that when Walt, my ambulance technician partner, got COVID-19. I'm a community nurse so I looked after him at home for four days. Pepsi sat on the decking below his bedroom window listening to him cough. He was so ill that he was unable to move. She couldn't understand what was happening.

After four days, he really deteriorated and was admitted to a hospital 80 miles away. I was lost. I didn't know if I'd ever see him again alive. I didn't want to get up – the days were too long and scary. However, I knew Pepsi needed me so we sat in the garden and played ball. If I cried after seeing Walt on a videocall she would jump up and cuddle me.

Life is on the up again

Walt began to give up the fight in the hospital. He hated being away from us and he was so ill with the constant cough and fatigue. We sent videos of the dog and encouraged him to stay strong so he could come home to his ‘therapet’ (we always called her that). When he was finally discharged, she rarely left his side and I know he needed her every bit as much as he needed me to nurse him.

Now, Pepsi is his reason to fight the fatigue and get out. She has recently learned to swim, so we go places where Walt can just sit and watch her play.

I know every dog is their owner’s best friend but Pepsi is an ace dog who has really earned her ‘therapet’ nickname. We love her. She loves us. Life is on the up again.

Meet Milly

Nicky’s dog Milly is a cherished member of the family

Milly is a loved, slightly bonkers, Flat-Coated Retriever.She is a valued member of our family and makes us all laugh every day.She has taken it upon herself to look after everyone and is both an assistance and a therapy dog.

Recently, both of my children have been unwell, and Milly looks after them so lovingly.She searches for them when she doesn’t know where they are and lies with them whenever they need some comfort.She even tells us when our daughter is having a seizure, if there is no one else in the room.Milly is incredibly tuned into the children and very gentle and caring, but at the same time she’s great fun and always ready to play.

She has taken it upon herself to look after everyone

She has many of her own special quirks, and likes to collect stones from the beach, sing along to the harmonica, look after her toy squirrel ‘babies’and always starts every morning with a few yoga poses – a downwards and backwards dog.After breakfast, she runs upstairs to get the children out of bed and give them a good wash.We would all be lost without her and are very grateful to have such a special pooch.


Meet Charlie

Whether she’s out in the garden or snuggling up on the sofa, Karen can always rely on her dog Charlie for company

Charlie helps me to keep a work life balance and to stay healthy. I work as a nurse and no matter how exhausted I am, he gives me a reason to get up and make the most of each day

Charlie has encouraged me to get outdoors

Over lockdown, Charlie has encouraged me to get outdoors and to start growing my own vegetables. He loves it, as he gets fed fresh peas, peppers, and other scrumptious home grown produce as a treat when we are gardening. He also gives the best cuddles in the evening when we’re tired from a day of fresh air. Charlie is my best friend and I couldn’t be without him.

Meet Cody

Cody has helped Helen to come out of a dark place feeling happier and more hopeful

I was only 20 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which was a really tough period of my life. At the time, I told my parents how much I’d love to have a dog to keep me company, but I never thought they’d actually agree to get one.

After returning home from a trip one day, I went upstairs to chat to my mum and found the sweetest, most cuddly looking dog sat on her bed! That was the first time I met Cody and I haven’t looked back since.

I haven’t looked back since

At first, getting woken up at all hours of the night and having to share my bed with an ever-growing Rottweiler was a bit of a shock. But Cody truly saw me through the darkest time of my life and for that I’ll be forever grateful. He has helped me in ways I can’t even put into words.

Eight years later and our bond is still going strong. Now, he’s much bigger and manages to scare away most delivery drivers and all the postmen – but really, he’s a big softie at heart. All he wants is a belly rub and for you to hold is paw.

Meet Holly

Samantha loves how her dog Holly always looks on the bright side

Holly is a seven-year-old English Sheepdog. She has been there for me through thick and thin. Around seven years ago, I was severely ill with a mental health condition and had to be hospitalised. Holly was my motivation for getting better and helped me find joy in life again.

Holly was my motivation for getting better

She is there for me unconditionally, always giving me cuddles and kisses when I need them and making me smile with her funny antics. For instance, Holly thinks she is a tiny dog and loves to sit on people’s laps, but doesn’t seem to realise how large and clumsy she is!

Holly hasn’t had it easy and has needed surgery in the past, but despite all she has been through she remains a happy, playful girl who gives me all the love and joy in the world. I am so lucky to have her.

Meet Paddy

Sarah adopted Paddy when he needed her most, and now he’s able to help other vulnerable dogs just like him

Paddy was brought into a rescue center where I was working as a dog walker. He had been found on a busy road near Newark, and was very thin and dirty. It took him a while to warm to us, but after a lot of perseverance – and the offer of food – Paddy came home with me as a foster dog.

He’s such a gentle soul

Of course, I failed as a foster parent and adopted Paddy not long after. He’s such a gentle soul, and has proved to be extremely loving and very happy in everyday life. Over the years, he’s attended fundraiser events with me, to raise money for other dogs in recuse centers and to promote awareness of how Lurchers can make lovely pets.

To this day, Paddy loves food, and will pretty much do anything if you bribe him with something tasty! He also enjoys woodland walks, but his favourite thing to do is curl up on the sofa for some cosy snuggles.


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