'If you want a friend' growled Michael Douglas in Wall Street 'get a dog.' Gordon Gekko's words about the fierce world of finance could just as well apply to the dog-eat-dog world of Westminster, where young pups and old hounds scrap to be top dog. And it seems quite a few MPs have followed the example of the fictitious banker, judging by the number of entries to this month's Westminster Dog of the Year competition.
The much-loved award is hosted by the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust and aims to highlight the 'unique role dogs play in society' and provide MPs with the opportunity to raise canine-related issues. It will be the first time the contest is held since 2018 thanks to the snap election and intervention of Covid, with organisers hoping to focus on prompting responsible dog ownership in light of the boom in dog ownership during the pandemic.
Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, told Mr S that: 'The competition is strictly apolitical; judges will be looking for the dogs' good deeds and devotion to their owner rather than policies or opinions.' This year’s public vote closes on 27 October 2021, with Steerpike's readers among the first to see the 23 different entries from MPs across the House of Commons.
Below are the contenders to being the top dog in 2021 along with entries written by their MPs...
Sir David Amess and Vivienne
'She is an enthusiastic supporter of Southend becoming a city! Also, she is political royalty and wears a crown really well. If she is not chosen she will probably sulk and die!'
Fleur Anderson and Toto
'He’s just a brilliant dog. He’s not the kind of dog that would normally win prizes but he represents everything great about having a dog.'
Lee Anderson and Alfie
'He is greedy, stubborn, funny, clever and loves being sat with us and has big ears. We always wanted a rescue dog, and this happened at the right time for us and Alfie. He makes us very happy, and he now has a forever home and Alfie’s story lets people know a dog is never too old to adopt.'
Ian Byrne and Bella
'Bella enhances my day-to-day life by being a playful, mischievous and clever girl. She loves to explore the outdoors and is always very loving to her family.'
Elliot Colburn and Lola
'Quite apart from her energetic and playful nature, one of my favourite traits is her waking us up in the mornings having found a sock to play with, hold it in her mouth and then give a muffled playful bark to wake us up.'
Virginia Crosbie and Violet
From Violet: 'This recognition would make up for the fact that mum spends all her time out of the house in Westminster and I miss her lots…'
James Duddridge and a Dogs Trust rescue dog
'Despite not owning a dog (I have three cats!), I am very pro-dogs, and I am running a campaign to get a dog-friendly beach in Southend all year round. I want to help promote the fantastic work Dogs Trust does, promote responsible dog ownership and hopefully help a dog find its forever home.'
Dr Luke Evans, Ada and Roux
'Ada and Roux are two of the sweetest companions in Westminster for sure, they’ve also taken to political life perfectly, and are more than happy with all of the attention that comes with it!'
Jonathan Gullis and Bella
'No matter what, she will love you and make you smile. She can also sit, paw, down and leave better than any MP I know. '
Jeremy Hunt and Poppy
'If you met Poppy, you would know there is no competition!'
Cherilyn Mackrory and Kipper
'Sits like a guard on a cliff top until his master has finished fishing. Amazingly calm with nervous or boisterous children. Only barks at the postman (until he gets a biscuit). Literally, the dog to end all dogs! '
Anna McMorrin and Cadi
'Difficult days are made infinitely better when I see her smile on our long walks, our weekends adventures, or at the end of a long day working to improve the lives of people in my constituency of Cardiff North. '
Maria Miller and Otto
'Otto is a handsome young dog who loves people to love him. He’s a great companion for us humans and our other dog Ted too.'
Guy Opperman and Zola
'Zola is clearly a trailblazer for fox red labs in Westminster demonstrating her worthiness of such a title. She is much loved by MPs and staffers alike for her adorableness and without a doubt would win a landslide in any parliamentary election.'
Sarah Owen and Herman
'Herman is one of the most easy-going, laid back dogs I’ve ever known, while also playing like a puppy when he meets other dogs. His favourite dogs to play with are Boxers and it is an absolute joy to see him play.'
Neil Parish and Kitty
'Kitty should be crowned Westminster Dog of the Year because she is an extrovert and would be the p(aw)fect pooch to promote Parliament, not only in this country but across the world.'
Selaine Saxby and Henry
'He is a proper commuting dog and spends half his week in Westminster, half in the constituency and like me has to adapt from city to coast and country each week.'
Paul Scully and Freddie
'Freddie is so affectionate and so cheeky. He is always looking to do things he’s not allowed to do which makes him great fun to be around.'
Tommy Sheppard and Henry
'He sets a brilliant example for us all. Besides, as Scotland will be an independent country soon, he won’t have many more chances to win in Westminster! '
Amanda Solloway, Alun and Conan
'If Alun and Conan were to win Westminster Dog of the Year 2021, I know that they will win over the hearts of everyone, just as they won over mine from the moment I first saw them.'
Edward Timpson and Stanley
'He went in 2015, so this is his second outing. Please give him a prize for persistence!'
Matt Vickers and Karen
'Karen is more than just your average dog. She stands up for dog rights, regardless of party lines, and, even though she can’t vote, she is a keen lobbyist who ensures that paw-litics works for our furry friends.'
Suzanne Webb and Sid
'He has a wonderful nature with that typical cocker spaniel energy and naughty streak. He’s also a master campaigner and knows the streets of Stourbridge as well as anyone.'