Holyrood Dog of the Year

3 dogs stood on podium

We are delighted that Holyrood Dog of the Year competition will be returning on 9 May 2022, taking place at the Scottish Parliament Gardens.

The competition, organised by us and Dogs Trust, is open to all MSPs, regardless of breed or ‘pawlitical’ persuasion, and aims to showcase dogs as an important member of the family.

Voting has now closed. 

2022 winner's

  • 1st place - Christine Grahame with Mabel
  • 2nd place - Pam Duncan-Glancy with Tony
  • 3rd place - Clare Adamson with Ollie

Celebrating a unique bond

The competition celebrates the unique bond between dogs and their owners, and aims to promote responsible dog ownership. All parliamentarians’ dogs are able to enter.

Message from Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust
Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust, explains: "The Holyrood Dog of the Year competition is so much more than a canine beauty pageant. The competition is strictly apolitical; judges will be looking for the dogs' good deeds and devotion to their owner rather than policies or opinions. It is a fun filled day out with an important message at its core – helping to promote dog welfare issues and encourage responsible ownership.”
Message from Mark Beazley, Chief Executive of The Kennel Club
Mark Beazley, Chief Executive of The Kennel Club continued: “Whilst the competition itself is no doubt a light-hearted and fun event, it is also an excellent opportunity to showcase the happiness that dogs can bring to our lives and to raise awareness of the actions that need to be taken – both in Parliament and beyond – to promote responsible dog ownership.”
More about why we run this event

The Holyrood Dog of the Year competition has enabled us and Dogs Trust to engage with Scottish parliamentarians who are passionate about dogs and to identify those who are willing to raise canine issues and policies in the Scottish Parliament.

The media are invited to watch the politicians ‘show’ their dogs and raise awareness of key issues which affect canine welfare. Past issues raised include the effects of fireworks on dogs and the importance of dogs training and socialisation.

In a bid to win the ‘pawblic’ vote, MSPs call for their supporters to vote for their four-legged friends. In conjunction with the public vote, judges also assess the pooches based on their heroic deeds and winning personalities to crown the overall winner.

Find out more about each finalist

Miles Briggs

Pam Duncan 

Find out more about Miles Briggs and Tómas

Owner’s name: Miles Briggs

Constituency / region: Lothian region

Dog’s name: Tómas

Breed: Unknown / Spanish Mix

Sex: Male

Age: 5 ½ years

Colour: Black and Brown (Tan)

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

Tómas is very much his own man/dog. He also has a huge skill of managing to find and destroy the squeak in any dog toy within 2 minutes!   

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

Tómas is always super excited when you come into his home – he gives the best welcomes in the world!

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Online puppy sales remain a real concern - especially following the Pandemic and more and more people buying dogs online.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

I think a responsible dog owners is someone who considers the holistic needs of their dog. 

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Tómas is a Spanish rescue dog who had a hard start out in life but has now become a much-loved member of the family and dog brother to my niece, Skye. Tómas also puts up with me dressing him up every Christmas!

Find out more about Pam Duncan-Glancy and Tony

Owner’s name: Pam Duncan-Glancy

Constituency / region: Glasgow region

Dog’s name: Tony

Breed: Cockapoo

Sex: Male

Age: 4 years

Colour: Black

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

He’s snuggly, intelligent, brings toys to all visitors and loves the pub

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

He cuddles me when I need it, plays when I want to and I love taking him to the park.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Dog breeders and dog theft.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

That they walk them, socialise them and give them tons of love.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Because he is the cutest, friendliest, funniest wee guy out and he lights up everyone’s life.

Maurice Golden

Christine Grahame

Find out more about Maurice Golden and Luca

Owner’s name: Maurice Golden and Luca

Constituency / region: North East Scotland Region

Dog’s name: Luca

Breed: Working Cocker Spaniel

Sex: Male

Age: 1 year

Colour: Golden

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

Always full of fun with a gentle and kind nature.

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

Luca is my sister-in-laws dog but I love taking him out for walks and playing with him in the garden.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Ensuring the law better protects dogs - banning harmful electric shock collars, bringing dog theft laws into the 21st century and tackling the vile puppy smuggling trade.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

Understanding your dog, make sure they are socialised, fed properly and are exercised regularly.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Luca is full of life and love and is an amazing family pet.

Find out more about Christine Grahame and Mabel

Owner’s name: Christine Grahame

Constituency / region: Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Dog’s name: Mabel

Breed: German Shorthaired Pointer

Sex: Female

Age: 1 year

Colour: Black & White Spotted & Ticked

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

Well of course she’s very cute. But don’t let that fool you, she’s also a big character who’s absolutely full of mischief and a huge sook. Worryingly clever, I often suspect she may be a human stuck in a dog’s body.

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

By regularly appearing at our Teams meetings from my Office Manager’s study, whether invited or not, and having a good look at us all on screen. Stories and photos of her antics, of which there are many, often provide a much needed moment of levity.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Responsible acquisition of a puppy or dog. Rehoming centres like the Dogs Trust do a great job but for a range of reasons there will always be demand for breeders too. We must make sure that those breeding dogs are doing so with dog welfare at the heart of what they do and that prospective owners know what to look out for so we can put horrific puppy mills out of business. We also need to ensure that prospective owners understand how big a responsibility owning a dog and giving it a good life is – they are a year’s long commitment and can’t simply be put away when you grow bored of them or are busy.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

One who has thought carefully about their lifestyle now and in the future before getting a dog and then giving it kindness.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

She was bred by an exemplary, Kennel Club Assured Breeder in my constituency who went above and beyond to care for her and her siblings and to ensure they went to suitable, responsible and loving homes whilst offering lifetime support to the owners to ensure they understood what was entailed and how best to care for their dog throughout their life. I feel passionately about responsible breeding and Mabel is a great example of the healthy, happy pups (and owners) that come from this. And of course she’s a supermodel amongst canines!

Jamie Greene

Liam McArthur 

Find out more about Jamie Greene and Astro

Owner’s name: Jamie Greene

Constituency / region: West Scotland region

Dog’s name: Astro

Breed: A small mixed breed rescue dog, possibly part collie, terrier, eastern European farm dog.

Sex: Male

Age: 1 year 4 months

Colour: Black with white collie-type markings

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

He has a curious expression and interest in the world around him. Human-like eyes, speaks a lot in many variable sounds and gruffs and grunts, he is his own personality, does his own thing and is equally at home chasing squirrels as he is to curling up on my bed in a neck locked spoon! He is great with other people, loves company but settles when is alone too, he is a superb sniffer dog with his nose permanently glued to the ground when we are out exploring, he is adorably handsome and loved by everyone he meets or who looks after him.

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

In every way. From the minute I wake up finding him curled on my feet, to the dog walks, to just generally being with me as much as possible 7 seven days a week. We talk a lot and we put up with each other in equal measures. He’s there after a difficult day at work, and there in rail hail or shine in the park sniffing and exploring – he is his own little man who beings me equal amounts of craziness and joy. I actually can’t imagine my house or life without him now.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Many!

  • Puppy smuggling and illegal unscrupulous breeders – which gives the bona fide breeding market a bad reptation unduly
  • Dog theft – making it a specific offence with higher tariffs
  • Combatting the “market” of online dog sales fuelled by illegal breeders and thefts pushing prices up
  • Dog neglect and violence against pets – I feel strongly about this people who hit animals should see the full weight of the law – animal cruelty is a stain on society. And people who are abusive to animals are often the same to other people
  • Animal poverty – many pet owners are struggling – vet bills, feed, accidents, insurance etc
  • I am currently working on legislation to tackle misuse of fireworks and restrictions also promoting quiet and noise reduced fireworks as more widely acceptable in society
  • Dangerous dogs – there are still far too many instances of deaths occurring due to poor dog keeping and control issues – the dogs are not at fault their humans are. So I think this an area for more research and review before any legislative changes are made – I do have concerns that current laws single out specific breeds due to poor human behaviour rather than academic research into some dogs being apparently dangerous “by default”
  • Animal charities – like the Dogs Trust and many others, do amazing work and are really struggling financially. We can and should do more to support their amazing work
  • Micro chipping – in Scotland we are doing well on this but should be promoted further
  • Kennelling and day sitting – the private kennels are for the most part good but expensive and not suitable for everyone or affordable. Many are struggling to return to work so I wonder what more we can do to support dogs at home post pandemic. In my city there is a huge shortage of overnight , short term or day care options which often leads to pets being left at home alone for far too long. We can and should make it easier and more structured for people to see this as a viable career option or second career
  • Dog training – it’s not cheap and not easy to access but benefits both human and dog I do also wonder what more we can do there. Many new or first time owners lack the basic skills to do this properly and it can make such a difference

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

Someone who gives the dog time, affection, encouragement, training, and respects that dogs are not humans  but with positive behaviour can fit around human lives. Dogs need exercise and time and attention.  We are often busy and that’s not easy to balance.  It’s a huge responsibility. And not one to take lightly.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Astro arrived into the UK in the back of a bus from the rescue charity Paws2Rescue. He was born in Romania on the streets and most likely would have succumbed to starvation, accident, or worse. I feel privileged to be his human and to have brought him over here as a small puppy to live with me.

He rescued me, not the other way around.

He is always there for me, he listens to me, to humours me, and comforts me and he is my world.

After just one year I nearly lost him due to some medical problems he faced. I realised then how lucky and special he was to me, and that from that point on I would cherish every single day with him no matter how long he is around in the world I am grateful for every moment I have whilst he is here.

We live alone, just Astro and I and we are very close and companions one to another. He brings cheer to my mum, my friends and those who love to dog sit him when I’m busy at work.

Given the stressful nature of our lives and jobs, he is my ultimate companion and its not been an easy for any of us, especially my office. My crazy furry best friend has helped me through the toughest of times and I have no doubt will be a special part of my life forever. He is also total dude. And thee most handsome little stray dog you will ever meet. I love him to bits and I know you would too. 

Find out more about Liam McArthur and Gerry

Owner’s name:  Liam McArthur

Constituency / region: Orkney

Dog’s name: Gerry

Breed: Springer Spaniel

Sex: Male

Age:  3 years 7 months

Colour: White/brown

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

Nose down, tail up, Gerry the Springer is never happier than when he’s on a scent. With ears that can pick up Sky TV and help him seemingly levitate, as well as his impersonation of a ‘busted sofa’ when asleep, Gerry has melted hearts across social media.

Gerry is an adored member of the McArthur family and much loved in the constituency office offering dog therapy sessions on Mondays and Fridays for staff and often constituents too.

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

Despite rolling in stuff that smells, leaving white hairs on clothes and furniture and taking the occasional ‘unsanctioned’ walk, time spent with Gerry is invariably uplifting and leaves you feeling better about life.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

From a constituency perspective, ensuring dogs are:

  • micro-chipped so they can be identified easily
  • kept under control, particularly around livestock
  • regularly and appropriately exercised

Picking up your dog’s mess too, though that’s more about the welfare of others rather than the dogs!

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

All of the above. Essentially, recognising that being a dog owner comes with responsibilities as well as all the enjoyment and benefits.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Gerry is a poster child for springers everywhere, boasting a loyal, cross-party fanbase and following across social media. Daft as a brush, loyal as they come and 24 carat entertainment value, Gerry has the looks, ‘likes’ and lifestyle to set him apart.  All he needs now is the crown.

Jenni Minto

Mark Ruskell

Find out more about Jenni Minto and Jim

Owner’s name:  Jenni Minto

Constituency / region: Argyll and Bute

Dog’s name: Jim

Breed: Border Collie

Sex: Male

Age:  5 years

Colour: Black and White

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

He’s the soppiest dog in the world.  Despite his big fierce bark, he’ll take the first chance he gets to roll onto his back to have his tummy rubbed by complete strangers.  He was a total failure as a sheepdog – he sat in the corner of the field with his back to the sheep! But the farmer who bred him knew he was affectionate and looked for a suitable owner for him.  We got lucky.   

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

If he sees me from the window coming home, he rushes down the stairs to give me a wonderful greeting.  He is the perfect antidote to a busy day.  His happiness at seeing me is infectious and he has lots of funny little ways that make me smile.  And of course, he needs lots of walks – which does both of us lots of good.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

More needs to be done to tackle dog theft.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

Caring for your dog is only the first step.  Of course, you want them to be happy and healthy, but they must be good neighbours too.  You have to keep dogs under control, especially around children, other animals and traffic.  Not every person or animal welcomes the attentions of even a friendly dog.  Get to recognise if there is anything that makes your dog nervous (revving motorbikes and huskies in Jim’s case) and take special care when confronted with that.  And last, but definitely not least, pick up poo.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

If you knew Jim, you wouldn’t have to ask!  He returns our love and gives us so much fun in an otherwise complex and stressful world.  Life is all the better for having Jim around. 

Find out more about Mark Ruskell and Bluesy

Owner’s name: Mark Ruskell

Constituency / region: Mid Scotland and Fife Region

Dog’s name: Bluesy

Breed: Greyhound

Sex: Female

Age:  5 years

Colour: Grey

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

Bluesy is my researcher Ioanna’s dog, she’s a much loved ex-racing greyhound who has adapted perfectly to living at home. She’s super friendly with people and fellow dogs and never ceases to surprise new friends by running up to them in search of kisses. Like many greyhounds she’s very easy going and sociable and recently has been showing puppies new behaviours and learning the ins and outs of peeing like a male dog – she’ll do whatever it takes to fit into new dog friend circles! She loves roaching on her back, waiting patiently to get some well deserved attention from her adoring family.

Bluesy is not afraid to get pawlitical sharing her own experiences as an ex-racing greyhound to defend the rights of fellow greyhounds and other furry friends. 

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

Bluesy inspires her owners to be more playful and lifts their spirits when they are feeling blue. She never misses out on family and friend get-togethers and is always the life and soul of the party. She keeps everyone active and socialised by encouraging them to attend several sniffaries a day, using every opportunity possible in those times to introduce her family to new friends.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Bluesy has been pawlitical with us this year in campaigns to end greyhound racing, banning glue traps and snares, better regulation of canine fertility clinics, and new rights for pet-friendly rented accommodation as well as broadening the powers of the SSPCA on their wildlife work and finding alternatives to lethal control of wild beavers.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

A responsible dog owner is committed to the safety, health, and wellbeing of their dog throughout their life journey, as well as to the safety of those who interact with their dog. A responsible dog owner should ensure their dog is equipped with adequate healthcare, grooming, food, daily routine, plays and walks, training, and friends. They should be willing to work through any barriers to their health and wellbeing with them (incl. anxiety, reactivity, etc) at all costs.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Bluesy would love to use the Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022 event as an opportunity to raise awareness of key animal welfare challenges and to advocate for strengthened and new rights for fellow furry friends especially her fellow greyhounds.

Maree Todd

David Torrance

Find out more about Maree Todd and Cooper

Owner’s name: Maree Todd

Constituency / region: Caithness, Sutherland and Ross

Dog’s name: Cooper

Breed: Labrador

Sex: Male

Age:  6 years 9 months

Colour: Fox Red

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

In the last year particularly, we have really appreciated his loyalty, companionship and friendship. Our family have had a tough year and Cooper has been steadfast throughout.

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

He is joyful and enthusiastic – Cooper LOVES everything – and its infectious! We also enjoy exercising with him every day and just stroking him releases feelgood chemicals and is a natural painkiller. All dogs are therapy dogs!

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Cooper is a Labrador so naturally wants to eat everything. Although it is difficult for us to resist his mooching, it’s vitally important for his health and welfare that we resist and keep him at a healthy weight.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

Responsible dog owners keep their dogs under control around other humans and animals and also ensure their poo is flicked or picked!

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Cooper is already well known within Scottish Politics – perhaps most famously for his love of bread. People ask me how he is doing the length and breadth of Scotland & I’m astonished at how well known and loved he is. He promotes the daily mile – great for our health & one of our best Scottish exports so international renown too!

Find out more about David Torrance and Buster

Owner’s name: David Torrance

Constituency / region: Kirkcaldy

Dog’s name: Buster

Breed: Golden Retriever

Sex: Male

Age: 4 years

Colour: American Mahogany

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

His loving and caring temperament.

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

He brings a smile to my face every single time I see him. When I am in his company, all the stress and strains of the day disappear.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Ensuring dogs are bought from a trusted breeder who has the puppies health as a priority.

Highlighting the dangers of dogs bred in puppy farms and the effect this has on their health & well-being.

The high number of incidents involving cruelty to dogs across the UK and how we can protect them from this type of behaviour.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

Someone who takes the health and well-being of their pet seriously, and recognises that a changes in an animal’s demeanour and behaviour can be indicative of a problem that needs to be addressed.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Buster is loved by everyone. He puts a smile on the face, and joy in the heart, of everyone that meets him.

Sue Webber

Clare Adamson

Find out more about Sue Webber and Alfie

Owner’s name: Sue Webber

Constituency / region: Lothian region

Dog’s name: Alfie

Breed: Hungarian Vizsla

Sex: Male

Age: Puppy

Colour: Russet gold

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

He is so friendly and loves people and other dogs

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

He gets me up bright and early, and helps me start each day feeling positive and loved

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Overbreeding & dog theft.  I also hate seeing cruelty to dogs, they are so loyal to their owners and it is heart-breaking when humans fail to live up to their dog’s unconditional love, loyalty and affection

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

Allowing my Alfie to grow and develop into a fit, healthy and calm Vizsla. We will always act responsible around farm animals, carry poo pags (& treats!) and give him all the walks and exercise he needs. We will also ensure that we train Alfie so he can interact with all humans safely, providing a safe, warm and calm environment with as positive and steady a routine as possible

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

ALFIE is super, he might be new to the world but everyone that meets him falls instantly in love with him.  He is already demonstrating his loyalty and commitment to our family.  His energy and cheeky character develops each day. 

Find out more about Clare Adamson and a Dogs Trust rescue dog

Name: Clare Adamson

Constituency / region: Motherwell and Wishaw

Why have you chosen to enter with a Dogs Trust rescue dog? I have two six month old puppies who might just wreck the whole event if I tried to bring them !

What are your favourite characteristics in a dog? Intelligence – practical and emotional

Why are dogs the best companion animals? Loyalty

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling? Over breeding and puppy farms

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner? Someone who loves their dog for their dog and not the image their dog projects to the world

Why should you and your Dogs Trust rescue dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022? I think a rescue should be given every chance to succeed – what an accolade to take forward to adoption!

Tess White

Gillian Mackay

Find out more about Tess White and a Dogs Trust rescue dog

Name: Tess White

Constituency / region: North East Scotland Region

Why have you chosen to enter with a Dogs Trust rescue dog?

I want to help a dog find a loving family and be taken care of. I want to support the wonderful work of the Dog’s Trust. I support the wellbeing of all dogs and the Dogs Trust is the largest dog welfare charity in the UK. The Dogs Trust is a lifeline.

What are your favourite characteristics in a dog?

Happy to be with the pack, fun loving, responsive, sensitive and who enjoys being praised and taken for walks. A dog is a perfect addition to the family.

Why are dogs the best companion animals?

They are attentive and show affection readily. Well trained they are great with children and older people and they make everyone happy to be around them. They bring so much joy to people and are great for positive mental health and wellbeing. If you have a dog, you always have a friend and are never lonely.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Dog theft and any form of animal cruelty needs tackling – there should be no leniency for offenders of crimes against dogs. Dogs are family pets or working animals e.g. farm dogs, guide dogs, police dogs, etc. They should not be left alone for too long. They need love, care and affection too.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

Taking time to get to know your dog. Each has his or her own personality. Training is important and lots of positive reinforcement. Ensure the exercise needs of your dog are met and do not over stimulate or over feed. Never leave your dog on his or her own for too long. They get lonely too.

Why should you and your Dogs Trust rescue dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Because every dog deserves a chance to find a loving home. Hopefully whichever dog I have for the day, will find his/her loving home. I will try and make the day for the dog a happy one. Should my dog be crowned, I hope he/she never again feels the despair or hopelessness of never having a loving home.

Find out more about Gillian Mackay and Alfie

Owner’s name: Gillian Mackay

Constituency / region: Central Scotland 

Dog’s name: Alfie

Breed: Cocker Spaniel 

Sex: Male

Colour: Golden

What are your favourite characteristics of your dog?

Alfie belongs to a family member and we get to borrow him when his mum and dad go away. Alfie is a rescue from the Dogs Trust. We don’t know anything about his time before he was rescued but he does have some separation anxiety. As a result he likes to check on us in the middle of the night to make sure no-one has escaped. His eyelashes are also incredible!

How does your dog enhance your day to day life?

When we get to borrow Alfie he makes sure we get our exercise. He loves his walks and he is very cute so everyone stops to speak to him. He definitely helps our mental health and distracts us from everyday stresses.

What dog welfare issues do you think need tackling?

Alfie would like more people to adopt not shop, he has a wonderful life with his family but there are lots of dogs who need a home.

What do you think makes a responsible dog owner?

Someone who makes the health and well-being of their dog a priority. They also know the problems that can be common to the breed of their dog.

Why should your dog be crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022?

Alfie is a former rescue dog and would like to use Holyrood Dog of the Year 2022 to encourage people to adopt rather than shopping.
Alfie has been to visit constituents and would make a brilliant pawlitician. Did we mention he is very, very cute?

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Don't forget we also run Westminster Dog of the Year!