Bella, a Lurcher cross owned by Helen Lewis from Stoughton, Guildford has won the Scruffts Family Crossbreed of the Year title at the world's greatest dog show, Crufts, yesterday.
Bella was one of six crossbreed finalists in the national Scruffts competition which saw hundreds of dogs compete in qualifying heats around the country, with all six finalists then winning their category at the semi-finals at Eukanuba Discover Dogs in London last October. Bella had won the Best Rescue category to progress to the final.
Originally a stray from Govan in Glasgow, when Bella was brought into the Dogs Trust centre at Harefield, Greater London, she was covered in injuries and had been starved close to death.
Helen came across her after tragically losing her previous dog Mandy to cancer. Two weeks later Helen took Bella home, where she underwent a lot of necessary training to combat the social and behavioural issues she suffered as a result of her terrible start in life. With a lot of dedication and tender loving care, Bella transformed in to an impeccably well-behaved and loving dog.
Helen, who suffers with complex health issues, relies a great deal on Bella to help her get through difficult times and believes she would not be here without her. Inspired by her friendship and bond with Bella, Helen has since decided to change careers in order to train as a dog trainer.
Proud owner Helen said: "I don't believe it, I'm speechless. Crufts is really something special, it's not just a dog show, it's so much more as proved yesterday. I can't believe it!"
Special guest judge, famous author and dog lover, Jilly Cooper judged the six finalists on qualities such as good character, health and temperament with people and other dogs.
Jilly Cooper commented on Bella and Helen's story: "It was just such a lovely story and was wonderful that they have both managed to find each other - simply amazing. It was so awful what Bella has had to go through, they were worthy winners."
The Scruffts Family Crossbreed of the Year competition is run by the Kennel Club, which organises Crufts, and caters exclusively for crossbreed dogs: dogs whose parents are of two different breeds, or a mixture of several breeds.
Throughout last year, heats of the popular Scruffts contest, which is supported by pet food makers James Wellbeloved, took place at events around the country in search of crossbreeds with that extra special something. More than 1,800 dogs took part in the Scruffts heats this year, raising £1,900 for both the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and each event's chosen charity. All competitors received James Wellbeloved treats and a copy of Your Dog magazine, the Scruffts media partner.
The six finalists for the 2016 final were:
- Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog - Hugo owned by Karen Kalaway from Market Harborough
- Prettiest Crossbreed Bitch - Beau owned by Diane Taylor from Ramsgate
- Golden Oldie - Icey owned by Val Philips from Croydon
- Child's Best Friend - Roxy owned by Olivia Lawrence from Chesterfield
- Best Crossbreed Rescue - Bella owned by Helen Lewis from Guildford
- GCDS Crossbreed Dog - Fergus owned by Kathryn Hoffman from Burgh Le Marsh
As well as the Scruffts Crossbreed Family Dog of the Year title, Bella also received a year's supply of healthy hypo-allergenic dog food from James Wellbeloved.
James Wellbeloved marketing director Alison Sudbury said: "Scruffts at Crufts is the pinnacle of the crossbreed showcase calendar. With so many fantastic dogs making the finals, we are most grateful to the renowned author Jilly Cooper for judging this competition.
"We at James Wellbeloved are delighted that Bella and Helen were named the winners - Bella is a perfect ambassador for the very well-loved crossbreed community."
Scruffts is run in support of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which has awarded over £9m worth of grants to benefit dogs since its inception in 1987. The Trust awards grants to welfare organisations which make a difference to dogs' lives, and also provides financial support to canine scientific research and support charities.