The Kennel Club Charitable Trust

Local dog abandoned after legs gave way is rescue calendar star

A local 4 year-old English Springer Spaniel rescue dog, who was going to be put to sleep after he developed problems with his front legs, has been selected by the Kennel Club as the cover star of a new calendar.

Fleck, an English Springer Spaniel, who came into English Springer Spaniel Welfare in February 2017, was given up by his owners of nearly 3 years after his legs developed problems and he was no longer able to work. At just 4 years old he was given an operation funded by English Springer Spaniel Welfare, which gave him a new lease of life, and was re homed after 2 months.

He had previously spent his working life sleeping on a straw bed in a kennel, but now lives life in the lap of luxury, sleeping in a warm bed – and often in his owners’ bed, for a morning cuddle.

Proud owner Judith Gannon, 50, from Okehampton, Devon, said: “I couldn’t be happier, or more proud of him, for being cover star and handsome Mr January, of the Kennel Club Breed Rescue calendar, whilst raising money for the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

“To see him transform from a dog who needed lifting out of the car to one who can now take a long walk on Exmoor shows what can be done if you have a little bit of time, patience and faith in Spaniels’ ability to recover. He certainly lights up my home, and it is nice to think that his picture will light up the homes of other dog lovers too.”

Sandy Waldon from Bideford, Devon and National Coordinator of English Springer Spaniel Welfare, who found Fleck his new home, said: “Fleck was in such a sad situation when he came to us last year, and could barely walk as he was in so much pain, and it was all he could do to drag himself along at a run if there was a chance he could fetch a ball, which was his favourite thing to do. With a lot of love and care he has now transformed into a wonderfully happy and loyal dog and we are glad that he is representing our rescue organisation on the Kennel Club Breed Rescue Calendar.”

The calendar features images of rescue dogs that were submitted by Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisations for a competition run by the Kennel Club to find worthy models to illustrate each month of the year. The 2018 calendar also features the following breeds: Bedlington Terrier, French Bulldog, West Highland White Terrier, Golden Retriever, Border Collie, Bavarian Mountain Hound, German Shorthaired Pointer, Japanese ShibaInu, Greyhound, Akita, Irish Setter.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “Dogs, such as Fleck, who feature in the Kennel Club Breed Rescue Calendar have had their lives transformed by loving and caring owners and the rescue organisations who find them their new homes, and we are thrilled to be able to showcase them.

“We hope the calendar will help to encourage people to consider rescuing a purebred dog who needs a permanent home, whilst also raising money for the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which supports the wonderful work done by Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisations.”

All of the rescue organisations with dogs featured in the calendar will receive £50 by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. The calendar is on sale for £5 on the Kennel Club online shop  www.thekennelclubshop.org.uk/products/breed-rescue-calendar . All proceeds go to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust to ‘make a difference for dogs’.

Search is on for dog heroes for national award

A nationwide search has begun to find the UK’s top hero dogs for the Kennel Club’s Friends for Life competition, which celebrates dogs that have had an extraordinary impact on people’s lives.

The public are being asked to nominate a dog that has changed the life of its owner, or another person, and deserves recognition for it, and the winner will be announced at the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts, at the NEC in Birmingham on Sunday 11th March.

From dogs that have helped their owners through physical or mental illness, supported children with autism and acted as daily support to people with disabilities, to dogs that sniff out life-threatening health conditions or support police and military services in protecting the public, the Friends for Life competition celebrates dogs that make an outstanding contribution to society and change, or even save, lives.

New to this year’s competition is the ‘breed rescue dog of the year’ category, which celebrates dogs that have had an impact on a person’s life after being rehomed by a Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisation, service or individual.

The public are being asked to nominate dogs in the following categories:

  • Extraordinary life of a working dog – for those who have shown extraordinary qualities working in the army, police force, RAF, airport, search and rescue etc.
  • Hero assistance dogs – celebrating all assistance dogs, from guide dogs and hearing dogs to medical detection dogs and autism assistance dogs.
  • Man’s best friend – celebrating a pet dog who has seen its owner through the hardest times as well as the happiest.
  • Child’s hero – recognising dogs that support and impact children to help them achieve the best start in their life.
  • Breed rescue dog of the year – for a dog who has improved its owner’s life after being rehomed through a Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisation or service.

Anyone wishing to nominate a dog for an award can do so via the Crufts website (www.crufts.org.uk/friendsforlife) until midnight on 21st January.  Towards the end of February five finalists will be announced by the Kennel Club and the public will be able to vote for the dog they want to win.  The winner of the Friends for Life competition will be revealed at Crufts 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham on Sunday 11th March, just before Best in Show.

Previous winners of the competition include 2017 winner, Bowser the Bull Terrier, who saved the life of his owner Sally Deegan after a health problem led to her falling unconscious; Boo the Lurcher, who is credited with transforming the life of owner Rosie Reid following complications in pregnancy that left her unable to have children and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; Miracle, a rescue dog who was saved from the cruel dog meat trade in Thailand who changed the life of his young owner Kyle who has cerebral palsy; and Haatchi, an Anatolian Shepherd who had his leg and tail amputated after being deliberately tied to a railway line and struck by a train, only to be rescued and rehomed with seven year-old Owen Howkins, who has a rare genetic condition which causes his muscles to be permanently tense, and his family.

Caroline Kisko, Secretary of the Kennel Club, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to dog health and welfare, which runs the awards, said: “Dogs play a significant role in our lives. Every day there are dogs out there saving lives in war zones, giving confidence and independence to those with disabilities, and showing remarkable bravery and loyalty as pets.

“Friends for Life is an opportunity to celebrate these dogs, who quietly go about changing people’s lives in their own unique and special way. We are looking forward to hearing from anybody who has a heart-warming tale about how their dog has changed their life for the better or how a friend has had their life transformed by their dog.

“We have introduced a new category this year, the ‘breed rescue dog of the year’ category, which celebrates dogs that have had an impact on a person’s life after being rehomed by a Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisation.  We would encourage breed clubs that run rescue and welfare services to have a think about any dogs they know of that fit this description and consider nominating them.

“As a fitting tribute, the winner will take centre stage at the Genting Arena during Crufts 2018, an event which is dedicated to celebrating the diverse role that dogs play in society and the way that they enrich our lives.

“We encourage anybody whose dog has earned the title of ‘Friends for Life’ to put them forward for recognition in this competition.”

For further information and to nominate a dog, visit www.crufts.org.uk/friendsforlife.

International Canine Health Awards 2017

The International Canine Health Awards, run by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, were held on Wednesday 24th May at the Kennel Club in London. Now in their fifth year the awards recognise researchers and scientists whose work has had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of dogs.

Award winners each receive a substantial cash prize, donated by Vernon and Shirley Hill of Metro Bank, to contribute to new or continued research. We are pleased to announce the 2017 winners:

  • Professor Garden, Chair of Department of Clinical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) received the International Prize in Canine Health, for his outstanding contribution in the field of canine health and welfare, with a prize fund of £40,000,
  • Professor Paul McGreevy, Professor of Animal Welfare Science at the University of Sydney was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award with a £10,000 prize.
  • The Student Inspiration Awards were presented to University of Cambridge PhD student, Andrea Strakova with a prize fund of £10,000 and a prize fund of £5,000 to Liverpool University undergraduate student, Harriet Davenport.
ICHA Winners 2017

From left to right: Prof Steve Dean, Prof Paul McGreevy, Harriet Davenport, Prof Oliver Garden, Shirley and Vernon Hill with Sir Duffield the dog (Credit: the Kennel Club)

More details about the winners and their achievements can be found here.

If you could like to enter or nominate a candidate for the 2018 International Canine Health Awards, you can register your interest here.

Video Of Jack Russell Going Rogue At Crufts Goes Viral

A Facebook video showing a cute Jack Russell going ‘off course’ during an agility competition at the world’s largest dog show, Crufts, has racked up more than a million views in under 24 hours and is approaching 10 million views!

Olly the rescue Jack Russell was competing with his owner in the rescue dog agility competition in the main arena at Crufts on Friday 10th March when he decided to tackle the course in his own way.

Agility courses involve the dogs running a series of jumps, weaves, seesaws, A-frames and tunnels.  They must run the course in a specific order, directed by their owner.  Olly however wanted to tackle the course in a different way and was caught on camera running around as he wanted.

Caroline Kisko, Crufts spokesperson, said: “Olly wanted to do things his own way and it’s clear he was having the time of his life.  In the video you can see his owner laughing as he whizzes round the course and even the commentator got the giggles, which is exactly the reaction we imagine was shared by the two hundred thousand plus people who have watched the video since yesterday.

“Olly is a rescue dog that was rehomed by Blue Cross rescue charity so it is lovely to see that he’s now having such a fun time with his new owner.”

Crufts was held at the NEC in Birmingham from Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th March.

Watch it now.

Bulldog Rescue and Rehoming Trust have a Christmas to remember

Christmas came early to the Bulldog Rescue and Re-homing Trust in the shape of a grant from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust! But it wasn’t just shiny ribbon bound presents that these lucky little Bulldogs received in their fluffy stockings and eager little paws this Yuletide. For some of them, the gift has and will have been of a new forever home via Bulldog Rescue and Re-homing Trust.

This is made possible by kind donations from members of the public, who have donated to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust or to the rescue themselves – who have then been able to use the money to help this wonderful breed receive emergency, and sometimes life changing and saving medical care and attention. The donations have even helped with such basics as microchipping, worming, defleaing, and vaccinations – all of those lovely little “perks” that we responsible dog owners take for granted when we care for our own little pals, but mount up when there are so many, unwanted, Bulldogs needing these bare necessities!

Imagine being tied up in a graveyard, left all alone, with no one to care for you. The only person you had ever known had left you and you had no idea if they would ever return for you, how long you had actually been waiting there and how long it would be before they would come back…IF they would come back?! Bulldog Emily went through all of this and more, but was thankfully found by a member of the public who took her straight to her local vet and it wasn’t long before Bulldog Rescue and Re-homing were on the scene and well and truly on the case!

Bulldog Emily

Bulldog Emily after her surgery

Emily was underweight and malnourished, suffering from two Cherry Eyes (a condition affecting the third eyelid of each eye) and with very bad skin. She needed surgery on both eyes to remove the overlapping third eyelids and this was paid for by the grant awarded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. The volunteer who took Emily to the vet for her surgery could not believe the difference when she came to pick her up to take her home as it was SO dramatic! She was a different dog. It is so hard to believe how dogs who have been through so much hardship, especially surrounding humans, can still love us so very much. I personally know this from my own experience with my 8 furry friends that include rescued and disabled dogs.

Another lucky little Bully, Belle, was also helped by a grant from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust! She also suffered with Cherry Eye as well as severe demodex (skin disease), MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and pseudomonas. Following surgery and treatment for her other ills, thanks to the Kennel Club Charitable trust grant, she now not only has a healthier life… but also a happy forever home and a new family who love her very much!

Bulldog Belle after surgey

Bulldog Belle after surgey

Both of these stories show us how important it is to support our rescue charities and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. What amazing work they do in saving lives and improving the physical and psychological well being of many of the poor little pooches of this country! They truly make a massive difference and what a world we would live in if we did not have them. As the saying goes, Christmas is a time for giving but rescues need your donations every day of every year. In the same vein, a puppy is not a present it is a forever investment that will likely leave stains on your carpet, chew your slippers and generally get up to no good, BUT how could we ever live without them?!

Find out more about Bulldog Rescue and Rehoming Trust
Find out how you can help make a difference to dogs by donating now!

Find out more about our author Caroline Murphy here http://www.facebook.com/thefamilyfrench

Stark Truth Behind Health Charity’s New Family-Friendly “Beat The Bugs” Animation

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust (KCCT) has provided funding to The Bella Moss Foundation to help launch a new animated video to explain the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to children and families to mark the start of World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week is an annual awareness campaign run by the World Health Organisation, this year running from November 14-20. It also features European Antibiotic Awareness Day, which falls on November 18 every year.

Meanwhile, The Bella Moss Foundation deals with the fallout from antibiotic resistance every day.

While AMR figures in pets and livestock are not as easy to collate as human infection figures from the NHS, the charity knows first-hand that these infections happen in pets. It runs a support service for human and animal clinicians and pet owners battling AMR infections and receives at least 30 calls every week.

As a charity set up by a grieving pet owner, for other members of the general public, The Bella Moss Foundation is passionate about the need for more awareness around AMR – and has created a simple family-friendly video to help.

Charity founder Jill Moss said: “The threat of AMR isn’t news to doctors, pharmacists, dentists or vets, but it also isn’t going away.

“In 2015, AMR was recognised as the potential source of a future civil emergency on the Government’s national risk register, and earlier this year, the former Prime Minister’s Review on AMR said if we don’t act, by 2050 we could see 10 million global deaths every year caused by superbugs.

“That same report also said a real effort was needed to raise public awareness of AMR.”

There are brilliant initiatives going on aimed at convincing professionals to prescribe responsibly, and The Bella Moss Foundation is a keen, long-standing supporter of Public Health England’s Antibiotic Guardian campaign.

“But there’s always more we can do to get the message across,” Jill said.

“AMR is here, people and animals die from it every day, and if we don’t start to appreciate the problem and listen to medical practitioners about protecting these drugs, then millions more will die. It’s up to all of us to make sure they don’t.”

The Bella Moss Foundation’s new one-minute “Beat The Bugs” video is aimed at children and families and stars a mass of multiplying, resistant bugs, and outlines how we can all do our bit to stop them from eliminating our antibiotics.

Jill said: “It’s a simple video but we want as many people as possible to share it with their friends and families – the message really is simple, together we can ‘beat the bugs’.”

Dawn Howards, chief executive of the National Office of Animal Health, who helped fund the animation alongside the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said: “We welcome this innovative initiative to raise awareness. Better understanding of AMR in humans and animals and the important role of antibiotics is vital for all of us to ensure the future effectiveness for our children and pets”.

To view the Beat The Bugs video, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5nTar7pU9Y

Support rescue dogs by ordering the 2017 Kennel Club Breed Rescue calendar

Dog lovers can support rescue dogs by ordering the 2017 Kennel Club Breed Rescue calendar, which is now available and stars dogs from breeds that have been helped by Kennel Club Breed Rescue (KCBR) organisations.

Raising money for the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, the calendar features images of rescue dogs that were submitted by KCBR organisations for a competition run by the Kennel Club to find worthy models to illustrate each month of the year. 

The 2017 calendar features the following breeds: West Highland White Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, German Shepherd Dog, Dobermann, Akita, Old English Sheepdog, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Afghan Hound, French Bulldog, Greyhound and Bedlington Terrier.

The cover star of the 2017 calendar is 16 month-old Irish Setter, Harry, who came into the Irish Setter Breeder Club (ISBC) Rescue in September last year when he was just 10 weeks old due to a serious health condition. Harry suffers with megaesophagus, which means he has significant issues swallowing food.br-calendar-shop-image

Originally the rescue organisation was given his brother George, who had the same condition, after his owners couldn’t pay his vet fees. Two weeks later, ISBC Secretary Geraldine Cove-Print discovered Harry in an advert online after his owner too had trouble paying their vet bills. After £300 was raised to buy Harry via donations from the ISBC Rescue’s Facebook page, 24 hours later Geraldine was able to collect him.

Harry went into foster care with ISBC assistant secretary Karen Pare whilst George was taken in by Geraldine for several weeks whilst they received specialist care to make sure they were as healthy as possible for new homes. During this time the pair acquired a large fan base via the ISBC Facebook group, which lead to further money being raised to pay for their medical bills. Although they will always be at risk of a lung infection called aspiration pneumonia, following specialist veterinary care and a specific diet regime, both brothers’ condition has significantly improved.

Harry’s new owners, Sarah and Simon Docherty from Buckley, North Wales, stumbled upon his story when they saw that friends of the ISBC were raising funds in order to rescue Harry. The couple had previously owned another Irish Setter who had the same condition as Harry, as well as cancer, but who sadly passed away in April this year. The pair weren’t looking for a new dog but as soon as they read about Harry on Facebook they quickly changed their minds.

Proud owner Sarah said: “We firstly fell in love with his story due to his poor start in life. We’ve always had Setters and his plight tugged at our heartstrings and made us want to help. Then in discussions with the ISBC Rescue we fell further in love with him through his updates and stories about how he was getting on in his foster home, his cheeky character, and how he developed his own personality as his health improved.

“Upon setting eyes on him for the first time, we instantly fell head over heels in love and we couldn’t be happier, or more proud of him, for being on the cover, and handsome Mr August, of the Kennel Club Breed Rescue calendar.”

Harry and his new owners will be joined by Karen Pare from the ISBC Rescue, along with other dogs which feature in the calendar, at London’s biggest dog event, Eukanuba Discover Dogs on 22nd-23rd October at ExCeL London to promote Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisations and encourage people to buy the calendar to support rescue dogs.

As winners of the competition to find the stars of the calendar, the ISBC Rescue will be presented with £100, and the 11 other rescues which had their dogs chosen to appear in the calendar will each receive £50 granted by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said:  “Congratulations to all of the dogs in the new breed rescue calendar – we are thrilled to showcase their pictures and stories. The hope is that the calendar’s sale will help to encourage people to consider rescuing a purebred dog which needs a permanent home, whilst also raising money for the Kennel Club Charitable Trust which supports and funds a number of rescue and rehoming organisations.

“The Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisations do such fantastic work and we look forward to having Harry and the other calendar stars at Eukanuba Discover Dogs to showcase the amazing rehoming stories as well as educating the general public about rescuing a dog.”

The Kennel Club Breed Rescue calendar will be on sale for £5 throughout Eukanuba Discover Dogs and through the Kennel Club online shop via http://www.thekennelclubshop.org.uk/products/breed-rescue-calendar for the rest of the year. All proceeds go to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust to ‘make a difference for dogs’.

Labrador study offers vets clues on why dogs’ tails lose their wag…

A painful condition that affects dogs’ tails may be more common than previously thought, a study suggests.

The research offers clues to potential causes of the illness – known as limber tail – which mostly affects larger working dog breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers.

Researchers say their findings are the first step towards preventing the distressing condition, which causes the tail to become limp and painful.

The team at the University of Edinburgh compared 38 cases of limber tail that were identified from owners’ reports about their dogs’ health with 86 dogs that had no tail symptoms.

Their goal was to gain insight into habits and lifestyle factors that might explain why some dogs are affected and not others.

The majority of dogs in the study were pets but those affected by limber tail were more likely to be working dogs, they found.

Swimming has previously been thought to be a risk factor for limber tail, which is sometimes known as ‘swimmers’ tail’. Some but not all of the affected dogs had been swimming prior to the onset of symptoms, the study found.

Dogs with the condition were more likely to live in northern areas, lending support to anecdotal reports that limber tail is associated with exposure to the cold.

Labradors that had suffered limber tail were more likely to be related to each other than unaffected dogs, which may indicate an underlying genetic risk.

Experts hope that further studies will identify genes associated with the condition, which could one day help breeders to identify animals that are likely to be affected. Over time, this could help to reduce the disease prevalence.

The symptoms usually resolve within a few days or weeks so many cases are not reported to vets. This may be why it has been so underestimated in the past. However, owners report that it can be very painful and distressing for the animals.

The study is the first large-scale investigation of limber tail and was conducted as part of the Dogslife project, which follows the health and wellbeing of more than 6000 Labradors from across the UK.

Dr Carys Pugh, who led the study at the University’s Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “We were surprised by how many owners were reporting limber tail to us but it meant we had the chance to do a detailed investigation.

“We have been able to add evidence to a lot of internet speculation about risk factors and the new findings relating to geographical region and family links give us avenues to pursue in understanding and avoiding the condition.”

The study, published in the Veterinary Record, was funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. The Roslin Institute receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

The Joy Book Club donates to Bark and Read

Bark and Read

The Joy Book Club, a subscription box book club, has donated money to the Bark and Read foundation after it nominated them as their chosen charity for their ‘Read Books, Do Good’ initiative.

Every two months, The Joy Book Club customers receive a box with a book and few gifts themed around that month’s particular book. As part of this, they nominate a book-related charity and donate £1 from every box sold to said charity.

For the months of April and May The Joy Book Club sold a total of 28 boxes. The book that inspired the club to nominate Bark and Read was Sirius by Jonathan Crown, which is the remarkable story of a little dog who changed world history.

Founder of The Joy Book Club Julie Fisher said: “It’s important to me that this business, as well as being a fun, bookish business, gives something back to society and does some good, which is why I started the initiative.

“I first heard about the Bark and Read at Discover Dogs back in October and thought it sounded like a wonderful idea. And as my latest book pick featured a dog, this seemed like the obvious choice for this month’s charity, and it’s a scheme I am very happy to support.”

The Bark & Read Foundation provides funding and support to individuals and charities, big and small, who bring dogs into classrooms and libraries to assist children and young people to become confident and happy readers. It receives funding from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust as well as local businesses such as The Joy Book Club. Currently, Bark and Read have eleven participating charities with more in the pipeline.  Between them, they reach approximately 700 schools.

Find out more about the Bark and Read Foundation by clicking here

Winners of Dog Photographer of the Year Competition Announced

DPOTY 2015 Overall Winner © Anastasia Vetkovskaya / The Kennel Club

The Kennel Club has announced the winners of its annual Dog Photographer of the Year competition. Now in its tenth year, the competition received almost 13,000 entries from a staggering 90 different countries.
Anastasia Vetkovskaya from Russia has been selected as the overall winner of the competition with an image of Sheldon the English Springer Spaniel entering the water early one morning. The image initially won the ‘Dogs at Work’ category. The winning photographer lives in Moscow with her husband and two children plus their three dogs, two cats and a horse.

DPOTY 2015 Overall Winner © Anastasia Vetkovskaya / The Kennel Club

DPOTY 2015 Overall Winner © Anastasia Vetkovskaya / The Kennel Club

Upon winning the biggest canine photography competition in the world, Anastasia said: “I have loved animals from an early age, which is why I went to Moscow Veterinary Academy and became a veterinary surgeon in 2007. Around this period of time, my husband gave me my first SLR camera and since then I have devoted all of my free time to photography. My speciality is pets and I am inspired most by horses and dogs.

This particular image was taken during dog training one early autumn morning. The dog, Lordsett Just One Look (Sheldon), belongs to a friend and often becomes my model.”

The competition consists of eight categories: Portrait, Man’s Best Friend, Dogs At Play, Dogs At Work, Puppy, new category Oldies, under 18s’ category I Love Dogs Because…, and Assistance Dogs and Dog Charities.

The other category winners were: Tom Lowe from North Tyneside, who won the ‘Dogs at Play’ category with a photo of Baxter, his pet Westie, emerging from Loch Lomond; Linda Storm from Colorado, who won the ‘Puppy’ category with an adorable image of a rescue puppy enjoying a bowl of milk; Jamie Morgan from Maidstone, who won the ‘Dog Portrait’ category with a stunning image of two Afghan Hounds against an idyllic backdrop; Fiona Sami from Bristol who won the ‘Man’s Best Friend’ category with an understated photograph of a man and his dog travelling by train; under 18s’ category ‘I Love Dogs Because…’ winner 16 year-old Jade Hudson from Lincolnshire; and Kevin Smith from Worcestershire, who won new category ‘Oldies’ with a portrait of 12 year-old crossbreed, Lizzie.

The winner of the ‘Assistance Dogs and Dog Charities’ category was Michael Higginson from Preston, Lancashire, who took a relaxed photograph of his brother Dale with family pet, Esta. A prize of £500 for this category will go to Michael’s chosen charity, Dogs for Good.

DPOTY 2015 Michael Higginson-®_The Kennel Club

DPOTY 2015 Winner of the ‘Assistance Dogs and Dog Charities category, Michael Higginson ® / The Kennel Club

Speaking about his win, Michael said: “I was pretty surprised when I got the call. I’m not one for expressing myself emotionally but I had the largest, longest lasting smile and my partner Cat – who came 2nd in the Puppy category – was enthusiastically star jumping around the room. Winning the Assistance Dog category has made it even more special. It’s an honour to be able to show the world what a difference a dog can make to someone else’s life.”

This year’s Kennel Club Dog Photographer of the Year competition is sponsored by SmugMug, the dog-loving photo sharing site for professional photographers. The company’s European Manager Alastair Jolly commented: “At SmugMug we are passionate about two things – photography and man’s best friend – so being on the judging panel for this year’s competition has been a fantastic experience. The quality of images entered in to the competition was incredibly high, making it very tough to choose the winning few. We look forward to meeting the winners at the awards ceremony and introducing them to the SmugMug community.”

Each of the eight winners will receive a print of their image courtesy of Loxley Colour, a SmugMug business account, and a two day photography course with dog photographer Andy Biggar, a former finalist of the competition who has gone on to great success. The overall winner will also receive an original oil painting of their winning image by internationally award winning artist Sara Abbott. Two runners-up for each category will also receive prizes.

Judges this year included Head of Exhibitions at the Photographers’ Gallery, Clare Grafik; Press Association’s Group Picture Editor, Martin Keene; professional dog photographer, Samantha Clark; SmugMug’s European Manager, Alastair Jolly; and Kennel Club representatives  Rosemary Smart, Chief Executive; Simon Luxmoore, Chairman, and Pauline Luxmoore-Ball.

Rosemary Smart, Kennel Club Chief Executive said: “The entries for this year’s Dog Photographer of the Year competition were some of the best we have ever seen. Choosing the winners was an incredibly challenging task and we commend every photographer who entered. Each of the winning photographers beautifully captured the essence of their canine subjects on camera, demonstrating how important dogs are to us in every walk of life. The winners showed great technical skill and we look forward to seeing more work from them in the future.”

All of the winning images plus the photos that placed second and third for each category will be on display at the Kennel Club in Mayfair, London from 28th June until 12th September. The exhibition is open to the public and free to visit by appointment.

Anyone wishing to visit should contact the Art Gallery office artgallery@thekennelclub.org.uk.

To view all the winning images visit the Dog Photographer of the Year website.