To the gardens alongside Parliament, where MPs and their mutts lined up this morning in a bid to win the coveted title of Westminster Dog of the Year. Miniature Dachshunds appear to be the dog du jour among Tory MPs, with three of them competing to be crowned top dog. However, their short legs put them at a disadvantage in the Doggy Dash, while the rain left them shivering miserably in the corner.
At times Essex bitch Joni (the only dog there to have marched at last weekend’s TUC rally, with owner Jon Cruddas) and Lindsay Hoyle’s Gordon looked as if they might be about to treat onlookers to a repeat performance of last week’s cat fight in Downing Street - it seems no one had told them they were on the same team (Labour, that is). In the other corner, Boris the Jack-a-poo (owned by Alec Shelbrooke) drew envious looks from Lord Flight’s Border Terrier Doris as he chased after his green plastic bone.
A late arrival was Jake Berry and his Standard Poodle, Lola, who had been clipped specially for the occasion. After coming second two years running, it looked as if it might just be Lola’s year. Unfortunately it was not be, and Berry announced that this was her final year as a competitor – perhaps her hairdressing bills were getting too high.
With 18 Tory dogs in contention, compared to just three each from the Lib Dems and Labour, it seemed likely that the Tories would come out on top, and triumph they did. The overall winner was Charlie Elphicke’s 4-year old Norfolk Terrier Star, whose interests include ‘chasing seagulls and stealing ice creams and barking at the French doggies across the Channel’ from her home in Dover, and who posed beautifully on the podium. According to Elphicke, her next campaign will be to ‘stamp out puppy farming in Europe… and put an end to ill puppies coming through Dover to be sold in the UK’.
David Burrowes’s campaigning in Birmingham during conference paid off, with his golden Labrador Cholmeley coming a close second, while Labour’s Gordon the Rottweiler (no, not that Gordon) owned by Lindsay Hoyle took third place. At nine stone, and still just a puppy, it looks as if he might be a political heavyweight in years to come.