A COLLIE who used to suffer separation anxiety and was half his natural body weight has been crowned Henley’s Top Dog 2013.
Rory, a cross between a bearded collie and a border collie, was rescued by Joyce Marriott, from Pyrton, when he was only 14 months old.
She spent two years helping him get over his problems and now Rory visits schools, care homes and community groups to highlight and raise funds for Stokenchurch Dog Rescue, from where Mrs Marriott adopted him.
The pair won prizes worth £545, including a night at Hotel du Vin in Henley, after the awards ceremony at the hotel on Thursday last week. This was the fourth year of the competition, which is organised by the Henley Standard and dog shop Naughty Mutt Nice in Reading Road.
Rory won the Dogs Tails category for dogs that have survived hardship or committed an act of bravery.
The May the Paws Be With You fancy dress category was won by Cuche, a one-year-old Lakeland terrier owned by 12-year-old Danielle Hawkins, from Rotherfield Greys.
The Don’t Call Me a Mutt category for hybrid dogs was won by Blue, a Yorkshire terrier-cross owned by Eilidh Ferguson, from Britwell Salome.
Mrs Marriott was delighted but surprised that Rory won. “When you look at some of the beautiful dogs that were in there, that my scruffy little throwaway dog could win a prize is amazing,” she said.
“I just wanted people to know what a dog can give back to the community because Rory does so much for responsible dog ownership. He shows the joys of owning a dog and also that rescue dogs can be as good as pedigrees.”
Mrs Marriott said it took her two years to stop Rory “destroying” her house as he suffered from severe separation anxiety.
“He chewed the floors and cushions but I wouldn’t give up on him,” she said.
“After about two years he realised that life was okay, that he could settle and I wasn’t going to throw him away.
“Since then he has been the most chilled guy going. He’s so laid back. Lots of people think collies are very bouncy and energy driven but he’s the antithesis of that. He just wants to chill.
“He has been lovely to have and he’s brilliant with children and old people. I take him around schools and old people’s homes for people to pet and stroke.
“Stroking a dog is good for you and Rory is quite happy to give something back to society in his own little way.”
The runners-up in the Dog Tails category were Gromit, a German shepherd owned by Juliette and Matthew Harris, from Henley, Sophie, a Jack Russell owned by Zuzanna Zawada, from Binfield Heath, Mutley, a Jack Russell owned by Alexander Neill, from Henley, and Harry, a Yorkshire terrier owned by Mark Carroll, from Henley.
Cuche took the May The Paws Be With You title and £470 in prizes after Danielle submitted a picture of him dressed as Paddington Bear.
His blue jacket and red beret had been knitted by Danielle’s grandmother for her teddy bears when she was younger.
Danielle said: “Cuche is really fluffy, like a teddy bear, and I realised that all these outfits would fit him because he is so small.
“I asked my grandma if she would knit a matching duffle coat for the Top Dog competition so we could complete the outfit. It was really lovely of her to do it because it took about a month.
“I used to read loads of stories about Paddington Bear when I was younger and it suits Cuche because, like the bear, he has a lot of adventures.
“From time to time he will run off into the woods next to our house. He also likes to steal people’s shoes and run off with them. He is always up to mischief.”
She said her family had wanted to enter the competition last year with their miniature schnauzer Hogi but he had just had an operation.
The category runners-up were Bluebell the collie, who was dressed as the grandma from Little Red Riding Hood, and Maggie the Alaskan malamute, who was shown with a wig to make her look like Princess Leia from Star Wars.
Bluebell is owned by Isabel and Freya Jonsson, from Pishill, and Maggie belongs to Ashley Mackie, from Henley.
Blue, who is eight, won the Don’t Call Me a Mutt category and £640 in prizes thanks to a picture of him sunbathing on a window sill.
Miss Ferguson’s entry said: “Blue loves to sunbathe. She has days where she doesn’t like to get out of bed for a walk and if she does manage one she goes back to bed when she gets home!
“She was a ‘second-hand’ dog. Everyone who meets Blue falls in love with her.”
Miss Ferguson, 26, who is landlady of the Red Lion in Britwell Salome, said: “I entered because a friend of mine won it last year with her dog Hattie and I read the Henley Standard every week.
“I had a really good photo of Blue on my phone so when I read about it I thought I’d enter it.
“I’m really chuffed to have won — I didn’t expect it at all. I’m really happy.”
The runners-up were Labrador-collie-Jack Russell cross Heinz, owned by Harriette and Caroline Wilcock, from Hambleden, Henry, an Alsatian-Westie cross owned by Deborah Simmons, from Henley, and “Cavalierpugtzu” Coco, owned by Brigitte Chen, from Wallingford.
The competition judges were Naughty Mutt Nice owner Aspen Weatherburn, Henley Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak, Erik D’Arcy Donnelly, of Henley Veterinary Centre, and Henley Standard editor Simon Bradshaw.