A LOCAL dog had her day at Crufts on Friday as she finished as runner-up in the Pets as Therapy category.
German Shepherd Ava, 7, has for several years been a Pets as Therapy dog, visiting schools, refuges, the Salvation Army and Basildon Hospital to raise spirits.
While her time with Pets as Therapy has now come to an end due to a rule change that says dogs on a raw-food diet cannot be PAT dogs anymore, Ava was among the six finalists to be named PAT dog of the year.
Ava and her 44-year-old owner Nikki Bryant, from Stanford-le-Hope, joined the other five finalists at Crufts on Friday to hear who the winner was, which was decided through a public vote.
While Labrador cross Inca was named the winner, Nikki said that she was extremely proud of what Ava had done with Pets as Therapy and that both she and Ava had thoroughly enjoyed their day at Crufts.
Nikki said: “Ava loved it, she’s a proper show dog, I had her twisting and twirling around the ring because she got to lead the parade – she had an absolute ball with it!
“It was a great time, there were no losers at the end of the day, it’s just one dog got more votes than us.”
While Ava won’t be able to continue with Pets as Therapy, Nikki has now signed her up to carry on visiting people in need of the comfort an animal can bring through a different charity that carries out similar visits called Therapy Dogs Nationwide.
Nikki added: “Ava has got a huge heart and tends to know which child needs her the most and goes to that child. When you look at Ava she glows love and kindness and this is what many people have said to me in the past. If you look into Ava’s eyes there’s no malice – all there is is love and kindness.”