Honour for Scrabble the gentle giant therapy dog

PAT Dog of the Year 'Scrabble' with owner Ann Burrell, at Crufts 2013
PAT Dog of the Year 'Scrabble' with owner Ann Burrell, at Crufts 2013

A Harrogate woman and Scrabble, a five-year-old Leonburger, has triumphed on a presitigious level and walked away with a top prize at this year’s Crufts.

Scrabble was one of more than 25,000 dogs at the show, which took place at Birmingham’s NEC, presented by the
Kennel Club.

He claimed the prestigious Pets as Therapy Dog of the Year award last weekend.

Owner Ann Burrell, from Pannal, fought off competition from a number of other dogs to scoop the coveted prize, after Scrabble made more than 300 visits to local hospices and care homes within the area.

And Mrs Burrell, 69, was left beaming with pride at her and Scrabble’s performance at the world-famous Crufts in the West Midlands.

“It is just absolutely amazing to win, I have smile just fixed on my face and I am so proud of Scrabble,” she said.

“We go into my local hospice, Saint Michael’s, and also to six local care homes and he is always so well behaved.”

Scrabble visits Saint Michael’s and the care homes – Larchfield Manor, Belmont Care Home, Station View in Starbeck, Crystal Court in Pannal and Granby Court Extended Care – where he is well-loved by residents.

Mrs Burrell added: “When he is on his own he can be such a boy, running around the garden and having fun, but when we need him to he will sit and wait.

“He epitomises everything Pets As Therapy stands for and he gives unconditional love to everyone he meets.

“He is just so well behaved, he’s such a lovely dog. I’m so happy, he has been wonderful.”

Animal lover Mrs Burrell has nine dogs, including collies, Labradors, and four giant Leonbergers.

Patients at Saint Michael’s Hospice have named them all, and as well as Scrabble her dogs include a Domino, a Puzzle, and a Ludo.

She has been working with Pets as Therapy for eight and a half years and has been taking Scrabble into the care homes since he came to her as a puppy four years ago.

Scrabble was shortlisted out of 900 dogs nominated, and residents had from early December until Christmas to back him as winner.