Meet the dog smiles ahead of the pack

PAT Dog finalists. Christine Hughes and Chief
PAT Dog finalists. Christine Hughes and Chief
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A kind-hearted dog who provides scores of smiles for St Helens schoolchildren is up for a national award.

Nine-year-old border collie Chief, a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog, has been named one of six finalists in the HiLife PAT dog of the year competition.

The winner will be announced at Crufts on next March.

But he’s not letting his bid to be top dog get in the way of his day job and has been busy continuing his school visits.

His owner, Christine Hughes, of Ravenhead, said: “I’m absolutely delighted about Chief being nominated as a finalist. Words aren’t enough to describe how very proud I am of him.

“Chief and I regularly visit Eccleston Mere and St James Primary Schools. He brings a lot of pleasure to a lot of children who love his visits. He’s a calming influence and comforts them if they’re upset.

“We even think he knows the secrets they tell him!”

Pets As Therapy is an independently funded charity with more than 5,000 volunteers. Their registered PAT dogs provide animal assisted therapy and bring comfort, smiles and friendship to thousands of people every week.

At Crufts, Chief and the other five finalists will proudly parade around the show arena as details of their achievements are announced to the audience. The winner will receive £500.

month supply of HiLife dog food.

Christine added: “Chief is a very gentle soul who seems to have the gift for making anyone feel special. He’s a wonderful dog and we can’t go anywhere without someone asking to stroke him.”