Westminster’s gone barking

Westminster’s gone barking
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It’s that time of year again – sandwiched between conference season and the Autumn statement – when the nation’s political pooches (and their owners) descend on Westminster. Yes, yesterday saw the Westminster Dog of the Year show, 2014.

[caption id="attachment_8903972" align="alignleft" width="250"]duncan noodle 2 Noodle and Alan Duncan announce the winners[/caption]

Last year’s winner, Noodle the cockerpoo (and her owner, Alan Duncan) had been promoted to the judging panel after her success, and seemed keen to be back on the podium. She wasn’t the only one, either. David Burrowes’ Cholmeley (who came third last year, and second in 2012), also seemed very attached to the winner’s platform, and posed nicely alongside it. But sadly for Cholmeley, there was no space for a labrador on the steps this year.

Much of the media attention was given to two particular dogs – namely Scarlet and Snowy who belonged, respectively, to Andrew Mitchell and Michael Gove. The two did get in a bit of a tangle when posing for photographs (the dogs, that is), but as one might expect from pooches belonging to chief whips, both were impeccably behaved.

[caption id="attachment_8903982" align="alignleft" width="520"]Michael Gove and Andrew Mitchell, with Snowy and Scarlet Michael Gove and Andrew Mitchell, with Snowy and Scarlet[/caption]

At the risk of being accused of favoritism, Mr S should probably admit that his favourite to win had been Andrew Turner’s Bruce, who wrote in his manifesto:

‘I love people and animals and I spend my life giving encouragement to the former and raising money for spaying and neutering the latter. Love Bruce.’

Unfortunately Bruce was nowhere to be seen (perhaps he was busy on the Isle of Wight money raising), so other allegiances had to be formed. A number of familiar doggy faces did crop up, including the pug pair Lily and Bo belonging to David Amess, and Sausage, Laurence Robertson’s aptly named dachshund.

[caption id="attachment_8903992" align="alignleft" width="520"]Cholmeley and David Burrowes Cholmeley and David Burrowes[/caption]

But this year, it was a newcomer who was crowned top dog. Namely Diesel, a german shepherd rescue dog belonging to the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, Robert Flello. What more can a dog ask for on his first trip to London than first prize? Let’s just hope that the prize included cheese which, his owner informed us, is his favourite treat. Well, that and ‘anything else he’s not supposed to have’ – including chocolate!

[caption id="attachment_8903952" align="alignnone" width="620"]winners The winning trio: Sausage, Diesel and Snowy[/caption]

What of the other places on the podium? Snowy’s social media campaign certainly paid off – though the quick mention in the chief whip’s speech probably didn’t do any harm either – and the Tintin a-like took second prize, with third going to Sausage the sausage.