Clooney, a five-year-old mixed breed owned by Hannah and Stephen Hayes from Newark, Nottinghamshire, has won the Scruffts Family Crossbreed of the Year title at the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts on Saturday 7th March.
Clooney was one of four crossbreed finalists in the national Scruffts competition, which is exclusively supported by pet food makers James Wellbeloved. Hundreds of dogs competed in qualifying heats around the country, with 24 dogs and their owners making it through to the semi-finals, which also took place at Crufts earlier on Saturday.
Clooney was found in a bad condition, wandering the streets of Romania, before he was rescued by Sirius Animal Rescue and Evermore Dog Rescue. After being nursed back to health, he was taken to a rehoming centre in Nottinghamshire.
Having both grown up with dogs, Stephen and Hannah were looking for a dog after moving in together and it was love at first sight when they met Clooney, who greeted them with a wagging tail. More recently, he was even ring bearer at their wedding!
This is the first time the trio had entered Scruffts, taking part in the local All About Dogs show heat in Newark last year.
Thrilled owner Hannah said: “I’m completely speechless. I’m still in shock. We entered for the fun of it, we never imagined Clooney would win.
“We just couldn’t resist his beautiful amber eyes and cheeky face.”
Actress, presenter and comedian Sally Phillips and actress and impressionist Ronni Ancona judged the four finalists, alongside dog judge Robin Newhouse, looking for qualities such as good character, health and temperament with people and other dogs.
On choosing the winner, Sally Phillips said: “Coming here today has been a real pleasure but of course, it’s been an almost impossible task picking out a winner - all the stories are completely heart-breaking.
“I just loved the fact that Clooney was best man at Stephen and Hannah’s wedding and has done wonders for their mental health. When you rescue a dog, as I have done, you do wonder who is actually rescuing who here.”
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.
The four finalists were:
- Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog: Clooney the mixed breed, owned by Stephen and Hannah Hayes from Newark, Nottinghamshire.
- Good Citizen Dog Scheme: Maggie the German Wirehaired Pointer cross, owned by Karen Baudrey from East Tilbury, Essex
- Golden Oldie Crossbreed: Roxie the 15-year old mixed breed, owned by Jessica Mann from Oxford
- Prettiest Crossbreed Bitch: Skye the Alaskan Malamute/German Shepherd/Siberian Husky cross, owned by Elaine Forster from Abingdon, Oxfordshire
As well as the Scruffts Crossbreed Family Dog of the Year title, Clooney received a year’s supply of healthy hypo-allergenic dog food from James Wellbeloved.
James Wellbeloved marketing manager Laurence Hooper said: "Huge congratulations to Clooney, Hannah and Stephen on becoming Scruffts champions. James Wellbeloved is very proud to be exclusive supporters of this wonderful competition which celebrates the nation’s most fabulous crossbreed dogs.
“The bond between the trio was clear to see and we hope they enjoy every moment of being a Scruffts champion.”
To enter one of the 2020 heats, please visit the Crufts website to find one near you www.crufts.org.uk/content/whats-on/scruffts/