Off to the highlight of Mr Steerpike’s 2013, the Westminster Dog of the Year competition, where the pedigree chums of our elected representatives lined up to compete for a prestigious place on the podium.
With Jake Berry’s standard poodle Lola taking a break from the competition after competing three years in a row, someone was needed to fill the role of Westminster Poodle – and Alan Duncan’s Noodle was more than willing to fill Lola’s pawprints. Although strictly a Cockapoo, so only half poodle (very on-trend, don’t you know), Noodle had gone all-out with her campaigning, even going so far at to write her very own ‘Dogifesto’.
She wasn’t alone in the campaigning states, however. Cholmeley and his owner, David Borrowes, had even made their very own personalized chocolate rosettes. But Cholmeley kept his eye on the ball, as every good Labrador should, making sure that his biggest adversary, Noodle, was never out of sight. But London rivalries also emerged, as Cholmeley explained that Matthew Offord’s Maximus was also one to keep an eye on.
But would just being a supporter of Winston Churchill’s ‘Rufus’ – as Cholmeley claimed on his CV – be enough to win? Other competitors were also pushing the boat out this year. Having brought his ‘mutt’ Boris along for two years in a row, Alec Shelbrooke decided that the triumph of Star the Norwich Terrier last year meant that pedigree dogs were the judges’ favourites. As a result, Boris was left at home this year, and Shelbrooke’s Westie Maggie joined the fray instead. Could Maggie achieve the winning score that Boris had never quite accomplished?
In the end, it turned out that all of the campaigning had been worth the effort. Eric Joyce’s Brodie had a very competent campaign manager in the form of India Knight, who had taken to Twitter to sing the praises of her pooch – even going so far as to tweet a picture of him having a pre-show bath in the sink. It turned out to be a winning ploy, with Brodie coming out top in this year’s newest – and most democractic – category, the public vote.
Cholmeley’s rosettes, and his sheer dedication to keeping his eye on the ball, meant that he was awarded third place, while Simon Reevell’s wire fox terrier Harry took second place on the podium. So who remained to fill the top spot? Well, Noodle of course. Yes, perhaps she did run for the sympathy vote when she expressed her admiration for ‘every canine soul mate who is so brave as to sniff for explosives’, but if she can triumph over Westminster at just 11 months old, who knows what she could do with the rest of her career?
In fact, one thing that Mr Steerpike noticed this year was just how similar so many of the dogs were to their owners. Prime examples were this year’s winners –Noodle and Brodie – both of whom bore a certain resemblance to their human companions. And David Borrowes and Cholmeley – or indeed Simon Reevell and Harry – don’t look that different either. I wonder what breed of dog our esteemed editor Mr Nelson would go for?
After the judging, the top dogs trooped off to the BBC studios for an appearance on the Daily Politics.