Mims Davies wins first place with TJ at the Westminster Dog of the Year competition (Michael Leckie/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Michael Leckie
The cockapoo of work and pensions minister Mims Davies has clinched the title of Westminster Dog of the Year and will celebrate his victory by attending ministerial meetings.
TJ, 10, proved age is no barrier to excellence as he confidently pranced through the annual competition, held in London’s picturesque Victoria Tower Gardens.
Organised jointly by Dogs Trust and The Kennel Club, Westminster Dog of the Year has been running since 1992 and is an opportunity for MPs to highlight the role dogs play in society.
This year’s theme was responsible ownership and the MPs involved had campaigned hard, canvassing for votes from the public before presenting their dogs’ heroic deeds and acts of devotion to a panel of judges.
Cocker spaniel Cadi of Labour MP Anna McMorrin (Cardiff North) came second, followed by Labrador Bertie of Tory MP James Daly (Bury North).
After receiving the award, Ms Davies told the PA news agency she would like greater flexibility in allowing TJ to accompany her to Westminster.
She said: “I definitely would love to have more dispensation to bring him to Parliament.
“Many employers are dog friendly and that’s brilliant because the more you can support responsible dog ownership, which is what today’s all about, the happier families and dogs are.”
Asked how she and TJ will celebrate, she said: “I am taking him to ministerial meetings. But he has got a sofa I never get the chance to sit on and he is going to be allowed to do that. He comes to the constituency regularly; he is there on Friday. He calms people down, he supports us.
From left: James Daly wins third place with Bertie, Mims Davies wins first place with TJ and Anna McMorrin wins second place with Cadi (Michael Leckie/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Michael Leckie
“And, in fact, we have now got a puppy. My chief of staff has got a parson terrier, which we now have in the office, as well. They are taking over.
“We are a dog-friendly office.”
The minister’s sentiment – that pets can thrive alongside their owners in professional settings – was echoed by Labour’s Rosie Duffield, whose dog Paco won the Sir David Amess Pawblic Vote award, an accolade in memory of the late Tory MP.
The Canterbury MP told PA: “It’s really bad for dogs to be left on their own, particularly if they have been with people constantly. It can lead to anxiety issues.”
On making Westminster more dog friendly, she said: “You have got to make sure MPs don’t just dump their dogs on their staff, so we would have to have a proper scheme in place, but I think it might encourage more people to come in and meet their MP, actually.”
Rosie Duffield competes with Paco (Michael Leckie/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Michael Leckie
Tory MP Richard Bacon (South Norfolk), who entered his cockapoo Beaufort in the competition, said: “I think, not just at the Palace of Westminster but in the workplace generally, it ought to be much more normal to be able to bring your dog in.
“Obviously dogs have to be kept under control but they enliven the workplace. They make people nicer to each other.”