Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Regal blue is Crowned Henley’s Top Dog

A FAMILY’S beloved first pet has been crowned Henley’s Top Dog 2015.

A FAMILY’S beloved first pet has been crowned Henley’s Top Dog 2015.

Blue, a 12-year-old German pointer, belongs to Jo and Barney Wise, who live in Swyncombe with their children Frank, nine, and Rose, seven.

The couple have had her since she was a puppy and Mrs Wise says she is their “first baby”.

Blue now also shares the family home with their cat Woody, tortoise Bean and a goldfish called Goldilocks.

She was one of more than 50 entrants to the sixth annual competition, which is organised by the Henley Standard and Henley dog groomers Naughty Mutt Nice, and this year was run in partnership with Henley in Bloom.

The theme was “Blooming Wonderful Woofers” and entrants had to submit a picture of their pet doing something involving flowers.

Blue was judged the best after being photographed wearing a garland of flowers while striking a regal pose.

She won a pampering session at Naughty Mutt Nice, a health check at the Henley Veterinary Centre and a bouquet of flowers and floral collar from Bluebells of Henley, all in Reading Road.

Mr and Mrs Wise also won a two-course meal for two plus dog at the Station House pub in Market Place, Henley, and a portrait of Blue by artist Clive Hemsley.

Five runners-up also won a portrait of their dogs by Mr Hemsley, of Hart Street, Henley, and a pampering session at Naughty Mutt Nice, while a sixth special runner-up won the portrait, the pampering session and a Henley in Bloom scent diffuser.

Mrs Wise said: “I was so excited when I heard Blue had won — it was as though one of my children had achieved something phenomenal. One of my first thoughts was ‘my poor friends are never going to hear the end of this’.

“I know that she’ll really appreciate her prizes and all the attention she’s going to get once the news appears in the paper.”

Mrs Wise, who runs event floristry company Floral Circus, said Blue was very protective of her family. She said: “She follows me literally everywhere and gets pretty worried if she thinks the children are somewhere they shouldn’t be.

“She was bonkers when she was younger and people kept telling me she’d calm down eventually.

“That didn’t really happen until she was about eight. Blue is very buoyant, both literally and metaphorically — she loves swimming and she’s always full of energy.

“Whenever people turn up at the house she has to bring them a present, whether it’s a leaf, a twig or one of our shoes. We’re always having to walk around the garden to find shoes.

“She loves being in the thick of family life and she’s just like one of the children.” The runners-up were: Laszlo, a Hungaria vizsla belonging to Rob Teasdale, of King James Way, Henley.

Dodger, a bulldog belonging to Billy and Danii Russell-Woods, of Peppard Road, Sonning Common.

Baloo, a rescued cross-breed belonging to Rachel Cope, also of Peppard Road, Sonning Common

Bruno, a golden retriever belonging to Richard Owen, from Lower Shiplake.

Gwen, a rescued French bulldog belonging to 11-year-old Lauren Perks, of Gainsborough Road, Henley.

Morton (special runner-up), a deerhound belonging to India Bryant, of Henley Road, Marlow. The judges were Naughty Mutt Nice owner Aspen Weatherburn, Erik D’Arcy Donnelly, of the Henley Veterinary Centre, Henley Standard editor Simon Bradshaw and guest judge Councillor Kellie Hinton, vice-chairwoman of Henley in Bloom.

Ms Weatherburn said: “The standard of entries was very high indeed. It’s great to meet the winners and their owners in person after seeing their lovely photographs.

“The prize-giving ceremony outside my shop is always a bit chaotic with so many dogs in one place but I wouldn’t change it for  anything.”

Councillor Hinton said: “I’m delighted that Henley in Bloom was involved this year and thought the floral theme was very appropriate. All the pets that entered were beautiful. Perhaps we can introduce a dog-themed element to Henley in Bloom next year!”

Mr Bradshaw said: “It never gets any easier judging this competition because all the dogs are so gorgeous. Some of the photos made me laugh out loud and many made me go, ‘aaaaah’. Thank you to everyone who entered.”

Mr D’Arcy Donnelly said: “Judging Top Dog this year was as fun as always. All the entries were impressive but for me Blue really stuck out from the rest.

“It’s great that dog owners have a chance to take part in such a fun competition.”

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