Political canine candidate Buster is crowned Holyrood Dog of the Year

Buster, a seven-year-old Golden Retriever has today been crowned winner of the prestigious Holyrood Dog of the Year competition.

Buster, who entered the event with David Torrance, Scottish National Party MSP for Kirkcaldy, impressed the judges with his loveable character as well as his strong bond with David Torrance MSP.

The fifth Holyrood Dog of the Year competition, organised by The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust, took place today in the Scottish Parliament gardens at Horse Wynd, Edinburgh. Buster showed dogged determination as he battled it out to defeat 10 ‘paw-litical’ opponents and win the coveted title of Holyrood Dog of the Year, arguably the most sought-after accolade in Scottish politics.

The MSPs entering the competition campaigned hard, canvassing for votes from the public before meeting the expert judges to share their dog’s heroic deeds and acts of devotion.

With continued concern over the rising cost of living, this was the focus for this year’s competition, as well as the positive impact that dog ownership can have on our mental health. Additionally, the competition encourages an open dialogue on dog welfare issues, as well as providing an opportunity for MSPs to meet with experts to discuss all aspects of the canine world.  

Winning MSP, David Torrance MSP said of their winning moment: “It feels absolutely fantastic to win. Buster’s made a huge difference to my life and now he’s been recognised for how good he is. We’ve entered every year since he was a pup, but he’s matured as he’s gone along so it’s great for him to win.

“Holyrood Dog of the Year is such an important event to highlight the work that The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust do, as well as raise awareness of dog issues, especially things like people being able to afford to care for their dogs because of the cost of living."

The judging panel – Mark Beazley, Kennel Club Chief Executive; Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust Chief Executive; and Christine Grahame, Scottish National Party MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale and 2022 winner - spent the morning with dogs from different political persuasions and ambitions.

Commenting on the reason Buster was selected as the 2023 Holyrood Dog of the Year, Mark Beazley, Chief Executive of The Kennel Club said: “Congratulations to Buster and David Torrance MSP for their well-deserved win at Holyrood today, the bond between the pair was clear to see. There was strong competition from all of the MSPs and their dogs and we’d like to thank all those who took part. Holyrood Dog of the Year is a fantastic way to raise awareness of the issues currently affecting the nation’s dogs.” 

Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust added: “Our thanks to all MSPs and parliamentary pooches for taking part in Holyrood Dog of the Year, an event open to politicians and dogs of any pawlitical persuasion.

“It’s always wonderful being in Edinburgh to witness the unique bonds between MSPs and their dogs and it is never an easy task choosing a winner.  Many congratulations to Buster and David Torrance MSP on taking this year’s title due to their special relationship. 

“As all dog owners know, there is nothing quite like the love, loyalty and devotion you experience when you welcome a dog into your family, and today’s event is all about celebrating the relationship’s we have with our amazing canine companions.”

Leading the opposition in second place was Kura, a Flat Coated Retriever, owned by Tess White, Scottish Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, while third place was awarded to Oakley, a Dogs Trust rescue dog, accompanied by Alison Johnstone, Presiding Officer and MSP for Lothian.

In addition to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards, the competition also had a winner decided solely from the public vote which was Joy, a Greyhound, accompanied by Mark Ruskell, Scottish Green Party MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife.