A SIX year old Cockapoo from Surrey has been named HiLife Pets As Therapy (PAT) Dog of the Year at Crufts today.
Bilbo Baggins, who lives in Ashtead with owner Philippa Cadge, was selected from one of six finalists, via a public vote run by Yours Magazine.
For the last four years, Bilbo and Philippa have been visiting Cherry Trees in East Clandon, which runs respite for children with disabilities. The pair are also regular faces at the Furze Hill Lodge Care Home in Kingswood.
Bilbo was presented with his winner’s rosette by author and TV presenter, Victoria Stilwell.
Speaking immediately after the announcement, Philippa, 76, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to bits to have won. Bilbo Baggins makes such a difference to the people he sees at Cherry Trees and at Furze Hill, so it’s wonderful to be acknowledged like this.
“I can’t wait to share the news with the people at Cherry Trees, because it was them who decided Bilbo deserved to be nominated.”
Philippa, who was planning a glass of celebratory champagne with her husband, also received a £500 cheque from award sponsor, HiLife.
Since Pets As Therapy launched in 1983, close to 30,000 dogs have been enrolled into its scheme, with thousands making therapeutic visits to homes, hospitals and schools every week.
The charity has used Crufts as its platform to award a particularly impressive PAT dog, with the title.
Cheryl Tissot, CEO of Pets As Therapy, said: “Our congratulations go to Philippa and Bilbo on a well deserved win.
“We are exceptionally proud of the 5,000 plus volunteers who deliver such good work throughout their communities as part of Pets As Therapy, and being at Crufts to present this award is a great piece of recognition for our volunteers and their dogs.
“We also owe our thanks to the wonderful team at HiLife who have passionately supported this award and are keen to acknowledge the time and energy put in by volunteers like Philippa.”
HiLife haMarketing director, Peter Parkinson, said: “Once again we were proud to sponsor this incredible event and hear about the work the handlers and their dogs do up and down the country. Each year we hear how these visits bring joy to people’s lives and this time was no exception.
“Bilbo is a credit to his owner Philippa and I am pleased that he has been recognised at Crufts. As always we are delighted to be associated with Pets as Therapy and all the dedicated volunteers who give up their time to help others.”
Pets As Therapy is always keen to hear from those who are interested in becoming part of Pets As Therapy’s great work.
For more information, visit www.petsastherapy.org
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