Olympic swimmer Hannah Miley is delighted her pooch Poppy has been crowned Scotland’s Best Dog, scooping the coveted Golden Bone trophy.
“It feels amazing. I just can’t stop smiling because I genuinely didn’t expect it,” said Hannah after the final of the BBC Scotland search for the country’s most cherished canine aired this evening (December 23).
“It was an incredible experience and I am just so chuffed and happy for her. She was an amazing girl.”
Cocker Spaniel Poppy was in a tough final, up against four other pets, each judged on not only challenges like recall and agility skills, but also the bond with their owner.
Hannah, who has said Poppy “saved” her and her fiancé Euan through lockdown, credits the bond between her and her pooch with their victory.
Poppy’s special treat for winning
“Regardless of the challenges, Poppy just wanted to do it because we were a partnership… even though there were a couple of tasty treats along the way,” said Hannah, who spent lockdown working on tricks with Poppy while the world-class swimmer was trying to recover from a shoulder injury.
Hannah said Poppy was given a special treat when she was declared Scotland’s Best Dog.
“She got a little bit of steak and got to snuggle in our bed instead of her own bed for that night,” said Hannah, adding the Golden Bone will take pride of place in their house.
“It will either be on our windowsill or in front of the TV, so hopefully when people come in that’s the first thing they see. It will be in pride of place, a real showcase for whoever comes over.”
She also praised the other finalists and said the show had highlighted how amazing dogs are and what they bring into people’s lives.
Poppy is now a qualified Therapet
“We met some great owners and their dogs and hopefully we will have a contestant reunion for a big Scotland’s Best Dog walk or get-together. I think Poppy has made some good friends…as have I!”
Hannah said she intends to keep going with teaching Poppy knew tricks, which has included teaching her to “read” certain commands, as well as joining Hannah and Euan on paddleboarding trips.
“She has qualified as a Therapet as well, so hopefully will do some volunteer visits, maybe to hospices or to students to help them de-stress before exams,” said Hannah.
“(Poppy) means the world to me, she’s my companion and I can’t imagine life without her.”
Judges praise winning duo’s bond
Scotland’s Best Dog judge and dog lover Kaye Adams said the relationship between Hannah and Poppy was a major factor in their victory.
She said: “I think consistency was what swung it for Hannah and Poppy. That Olympian training shone through! The attention to detail was spot on but they still have a lovely relationship.”
Fellow judge and Scottish SPCA veteran, Alan Grant agreed: “Hannah and Poppy had a really lovely, equal relationship where it’s obvious they work as a team. Their bond was obvious and how well Hannah has trained Poppy shone through.”