Scotland's Best Dog: Here are the Edinburgh pets in the running to win the Golden Bone trophy
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Last week, Poppet and her owner Kaylee Hughes, 31, triumphed over her rivals, Husky Pomeranian cross Miller, from Aberdeenshire, and mixed breed rescue dog Picco, from Glasgow, to win a place in the final of the series that isn’t about looks or pedigree, but instead celebrates the unique bond between a dog and the people who love them.
Each week, the judges individually score three owners and dog pairings across three key challenges - recall, bond and agility skills - with the overall heat winner earning a place in the Grand Final where they will compete for the coveted Golden Bone trophy and to be crowned Scotland’s Best Dog 2021.
In this week's episode on Thursday, November 25, Charlotte Swarbrick and Brannigan, from Bathgate, fly the flag for the Lothians as they are put through their paces by the judges.
A Bernese mountain dog, eight-year-old adventure-seeking Brannigan loves nothing better than the great outdoors, regularly taking part in hiking, paddle boarding and canicrossing – the sport of running with your dog.
Charlotte says, "Scotland's Best Dog was a completely new experience for us both and it has given me a wonderful memory to have with Brannigan.”
One moment in particular that sticks in her memory is the moment when, during a challenge in front of the judges, Brannigan decided to suddenly make a beeline towards an off camera toy box.
“I couldn’t stop laughing,” says Charlotte. “He likes toys but isn’t really that interested in them generally, so the fact he decided to do that really made me laugh. He had clocked the box earlier and obviously hadn’t forgotten about it so when he saw his window of opportunity, he took it.
“I just asked him which one he wanted, he chose one and then we went back to do the challenge again. He certainly got the comedy vote that day."
Charlotte entered Brannigan after friends suggested their partnership would be perfect for the series.
“So many friends sent me the link to the show, eventually I thought, ‘Okay, okay.’
“People often say Brannigan is such a wonderful dog, a real outdoor adventurer, so striking looking and a great example of the breed so I thought it might be nice to show him to more people. I didn’t even think we would get an email back, let alone get through to the filming rounds. It was very humbling.”
Describing him as, “Loyal, enthusiastic, friendly, brave and affectionate,” his owner has no doubt why Brannigan is Scotland's Best dog, she says, “Because he is a mountain dog - designed to navigate tough terrain, scale rugged landscapes, explore the wilderness with his human and cope effortlessly with four seasons in a day.
“And what better place in the world to get all that adventure than Scotland? He is the perfect companion for advocating getting out into the great outdoors and is the best dog when he is out there.”
Next week's episode, on Thursday, December 2, finds Sarah Jeffrey and Ro, from Newington, representing the Capital.
Ro, who was the last pet to take to the Scotland’s Best Dog arena, is a five-year-old Australian Labradoodble who competes alongside her owner, a former vet who set up her own charity providing canine therapy and who has made more than 1000 visits to those in need, often with Ro, whose name means ‘tranquility’ in Norwegian, by her side.
Sarah says, "It was a real privilege to be selected as one of the 15 dogs and owners for Scotland’s Best Dog.
"I applied because BBC Scotland was looking for dogs and owners that could demonstrate the wonderful bond that exists between dogs and humans. Ro is not only my lovely friend and an amazing family pet, she is also a great colleague.
"Ro and I work together for the charity I founded, Pet and Companion (PEACE for short). Living and working together in this way, we have developed a very special relationship and a bond that I thought fitted the bill well.”
“Gentle, caring, playful, fun and fluffy,” are the words Sarah uses to describe her pet, adding, “Ro should be Scotland’s Best Dog because she has comforted hundreds of people from all over Scotland and beyond.
"She has danced with a lady with dementia, comforted distressed students, snuggled up next to people during their final hours, and brought joy to a man with Locked-in syndrome. She really is a very special dog."
To discover how Brannigan and Ro get on, watch Scotland's Best Dog, Thursdays, on BBC Scotland at 8pm, or catch up with all episodes on iPlayer.