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In a world where high-energy canines and agility reign supreme, Mariann and her four-legged friends have been on a roll this summer, leaving a trail of achievements and wagging tails that have made headlines across the pet-loving community.
Sponsored by Vet's Kitchen since 2016, Mariann's dedication to her dogs, Coral, Betty and Star, has led to a string of remarkable accomplishments, and this summer was no exception.
Here is a round-up of all the incredible achievements they have made.
World Agility Open in the Netherlands (WAO) - May
Mariann and Coral represented Team England in the nail-biting World Agility Open held in the picturesque Netherlands. In an impressive display of agility and skill, they clinched a Bronze in the Biathlon Jumping round. Although there was a few other ‘nearly’ runs, their achievement was nothing short of amazing!
Nottingham's Agility Spectacular - May
At the Nottingham show in May Betty struck gold by winning both rounds of the Young Kennel Club Agility Dog of the Year competition, securing her spot in the prestigious semi-final at Crufts 2024.
Wye Valley's Triumph - June
In an exciting twist at the Wye Valley Show, Mariann and Coral, along with her friend Violet and her dog Chase (who are sponsored by Reef Agility – where Mariann is the owner and trainer) , emerged as victors in the London International Horse Show (LIHS) Pairs qualifier. Their spectacular win, combined with other accumulated points, paved the way for their entry into the Grand Final at LIHS this Christmas.
CSJ Speedsters - June
Betty proved that speed was her middle name by clinching victory in the CSJ Open speedstakes final for the second consecutive year. Mariann says ‘Both dogs were also very close in contention for medals but unfortunately a few small mistakes cost us!’.
Tuffley's Rising Star – July
Starfish, or Star for short, secured two agility wins that propelled her to Grade 3 at Tuffley show. Her stellar performances were a testament to her growing confidence and potential.
Derbyshire's Delight - July
Star, having recently climbed the ranks, celebrated her newfound status with two agility class wins. One of these wins also qualified her for the Dog Sports Derby Novice Cup finals in October. Coral didn't want to be left out, with Coral snagging a fantastic 3rd place in her agility run.
Junior Open Agility World Championship (JOAWC) - July
Betty was selected to run as the white dog at the Junior Open Agility World Championship held in the UK this year! A white dog runs the course before anyone else to show the route and allow the judge to change anything before the competitors are allowed to walk and then run their course. Mariann says ‘This was a huge honour to be asked to take such a role and we had a great time!’.
International Federation of Cynological Sports Agility World Championships (IFCS) - August
Betty took the world stage as she represented Team GB at the IFCS Agility World Championships. The dynamic duo bagged a jaw-dropping 4 Gold medals in Individual Jumping, Biathlon Agility, Jumping, and Overall, showcasing their unparalleled agility skills. Teaming up with Spry and Thor, they also secured a Bronze in the Team event, proving they're truly unstoppable.
Iconix Show - August
Star continued her ascent by notching her final win required to soar into Grade 4! ‘She just keeps getting better with every show!’ Mariann.
Mariann and her canine companions have proven that with dedication, teamwork, and a whole lot of canine charm, anything is possible. They're a shining example of the incredible feats that can be achieved when pet owners and their four-legged friends work together to achieve greatness. So, let's raise a toast to Mariann and her remarkable crew as they continue to make waves in the world of dog agility!
Congratulations Mariann, Coral, Betty and Star from everyone at Vet’s Kitchen; we can’t wait to see what you all do next!
Vinnie and Bella were runners up in the Woof and Well Awards after helping their owner through some really tough times and gave him a reason to get up in the morning.
“ I can honestly say that a big part of getting through them tough times was down to the love and companionship of my two dogs. Vinnie and Bella lifted me out of the depths of despair and I don’t know where I would be today without them being there “.
“ Both are inseparable and are two of the angels in my life that in so many ways have saved me “.
What makes this prize extra special for Bella is that she came from Belgian Shepherd Rescue UK. A shining example that every dog out there is very special.
We think they look very proud of helping their Dad in this photo.
Congratulations from everyone at Vet’s Kitchen.
A Yorkshire Terrier/Bichon Frise cross and his owner are beaming after becoming one of the winners of our national award celebrating the powerful bond between dogs and their humans.
Their inspiring story reveals how one furmiddable little dog saved his owner, persistently pushing her through chronic illness and a crisis of mental health.
The Woof and Well Award was launched by healthy pet food company, Vet’s Kitchen, in recognition of the contribution dogs have made to our health and wellbeing, drawing heartwarming stories of dogs supporting their families and helping others feel better.
Louise Jacobs, 34, from Colchester, Essex, adopted 11-year-old Teddy Bear in 2012 when he was just 3 months old.
“I think he just chose me.” says Louise, with a big smile on her face.
While many dog owners might lay claim to a fateful meeting with their furry friend, few can match the staggering £50,000 Louise and Teddy Bear have raised for various charities throughout the years.
“We’ve raised money for over 20 charities.” says Louise. “Typically, we work with smaller charities as they really rely on the funding. We’ve worked for Scruffy's Angels, National Animal Welfare Trust in Clacton, Benidorm Dog Homing and Essex Horse & Pony Protection Society just to name just a few!”
With no intention of slowing down, Louise and Teddy Bear have four more shows lined up, looking to give 2023 a pawsitive send off.
Before Louise and Teddy Bear met, Louise was suffering with major depression. Life took a turn for the worse when Louise’s physical health also began to decline leading to a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain illness which makes day to day tasks nearly impossible. Teddy Bear swept in like the “angel” he is and truly saved Louise’s day and many thereafter.
“I have taught Teddy Bear so many tricks and he’s so helpful,” says Louise. “He can help me take clothing off, open doors, pick things up for me and lots more. Teddy Bear has completely changed my life.”
Louise and Teddy Bear’s story won hearts at Vet’s Kitchen from all the entries into their Woof and Well award. They will now enjoy a well-deserved year’s supply of Vet’s Kitchen dog food and be presented with the coveted Woof and Well engraved bronze medal!
“We felt it was time to give our dogs recognition for their love and loyalty,” says Laura Shears, MD of Vet’s Kitchen. “Humans and their canine companions have always made for a winning team and reading through the amazing stories we have received it is obvious that our dogs provide an invaluable support. Louise and Teddy Bear’s entry is testimony to this powerful bond and the world of difference a dog can make to people’s lives. We can learn a lot from Teddy Bear!”
The competition judging was led by Courtney Weaver-Ennis who is Head Vet at Vet’s Klinic, Reading, one of Vet’s Kitchen’s revolutionary in-house veterinary practices. She says, “
Becoming a Woof and Well winner, Louise reflects on her and Teddy Bear’s time together. “I honestly believe I wouldn’t be here if it were not for him. I owe him everything, he’s my little angel in disguise.”
11 year old Teddy Bear with owner, Louise (Photo: Louise Jacobs)
Teddy Bear with his Woof & Well medal (Photo: Louise Jacobs)
A local Labradoodle therapy dog and his owner have won a national award celebrating the powerful bond between dogs and their humans.
Their inspiring story reveals how one dog supports the children and families in his local community.
The Woof and Well Award was launched by healthy pet food company Vet’s Kitchen in recognition of the contribution dogs have made to our health and wellbeing, drawing heartwarming stories of dogs supporting their families and helping others feel better.
Gillian Thompson, 65, from Oakley, Bedford, adopted 13-year-old Polo into her family in 2011 when he was only 20 months old. However, it soon became apparent that this pup had something very special.
“Polo was an unsettled little boy when he arrived, but with time, patience, training and teamwork we were able to address his insecurities,” says Gillian. “Very quickly, I realised that Polo had some amazing qualities. He showed great empathy towards humans, particularly when they were in distress. I felt I needed to utilise these qualities.”
Both Polo and Gillian were then assessed by Pets As Therapy and Polo passed his assessment as a therapy dog with flying colours. Polo was then qualified to go into schools, hospitals and nursing homes to provide comfort and support. His real strength, however, was supporting children.
Gillian has worked as a teaching assistant for 26 years at Bedford Girls School and the school was keen to trial the presence of a therapy dog and Polo has never looked back.
“For the last 10 years, Polo has been coming into school with me each morning and is a highly valued member of staff,” says Gillian. “With his kind, gentle approach, he is able to calm and comfort the children in times of distress. He reassures them with his cuddles and turns their frowns into smiles and dries their tears”.
Polo has spent his life from a young dog supporting and bringing joy to the humans around him.
His presence in the school has been invaluable for the children’s mental health and brightening their day. He is quick to pick up on signs of anxiety and his gentle approach calms and restores confidence.
Recalling just one of the many times Polo has come to the rescue, Gillian said, “There was a little girl who was about to take her piano exam. 30 minutes before her exam, her nerves had got the better of her and she became very distressed, refusing to take her exam. Her teacher brought her down for “Polo time.” After 15 minutes of Polo cuddles, talking through her worries, she calmed down and was smiling again. Polo and I walked her to her piano exam, she gave Polo one last cuddle at the door and went in. She played perfectly, gaining a distinction. The magic of Polo had worked again!”
“Trotting down the corridor each morning,” says Gillian, “the shout goes up ‘it’s Polo!’ Without a doubt, he puts a smile on everyone’s face – it’s a lovely start to their day!”
Polo and Gillian’s story won hearts at Vet’s Kitchen from all the entries into their Woof and Well award. They will now enjoy a well-deserved dog-friendly family holiday and be presented with the coveted Woof and Well 2022 winner’s trophy.
“We felt it was time to give our dogs recognition for their love and loyalty,” says Laura Shears, MD of Vet’s Kitchen. “Humans and their canine companions have always made for a winning team and reading through the amazing stories we have received, it is obvious that our dogs provide an invaluable support. Polo and Gillian’s entry is testimony to this powerful bond and the world of difference a dog can make to people’s lives, especially children. We can learn a lot from Polo!”
Gillian says: “Polo is an amazing little chap who has given so much of himself to help others. He has taught me so much about empathy and how a calm, caring approach can help me through difficult situations. Polo and I are a team and we have a lot of fun together We are all so very fortunate to have him in our lives.”
A local black Labrador and his owner are prize winners after entering a national award celebrating the powerful bond between dogs and their humans.
Pluto and Maria’s story won hearts at healthy pet food company Vet’s Kitchen from all of the entries into their Woof and Well award. The Woof and Well Award was launched by Vet’s Kitchen in recognition of the contribution dogs have made to our health and wellbeing. This year, the award focused on dogs who have made a special impact on their family’s happiness.
Maria Cartwright, 46, a palliative nurse from Harrogate, adopted Pluto as a puppy into her family a year after her husband, Alan, was hit by a car while cycling to work in 2014. This serious accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury, a leg fractured in several places, loss of vision from his left eye and epilepsy. Eight years on, Maria is still caring for her husband at home.
“After nine months in hospital we brought Alan home for rehabilitation, but the man we brought home was totally different to the man who had left for work that morning,” says Maria. “Not only did we have to deal with Alan’s physical needs, it was the psychological impact on all of us that was such a challenge. We needed something to give us a positive focus and a new way forward to try to unite us as a family again.”
Pluto quickly became the family’s glue, providing light and hope during the darkest of days.
Maria says: “Pluto immediately gave love to us all especially to our two teenage children. He was their safe space, allowing them to cuddle him and cry and tell him how they were feeling. He helped bring a sense of calm and joy when they had felt so sad and company when they felt so isolated.”
Pluto, now 7 years old, has never been trained as a service dog but he naturally fulfils this role perfectly, being completely attuned to the needs of his family. He is listening ear for Maria as Alan’s carer, providing endless support when she feels overwhelmed. Another skill he naturally learnt was to walk slowly alongside Alan, keeping close to his side.
“Alan doesn’t go far but Pluto walks like a dressage horse - so attentive and carefully,” says Maria. “Occasionally Alan has fallen and Pluto has stayed by his side. He encourages Alan to go for a walk and without him, Alan would stay at home completely.”
“We thought it was time to give our dogs recognition for their love and loyalty.” says Laura Shears, MD of Vet’s Kitchen. “Humans and their canine companions have always made for a winning team and more than ever, we lean on them for the emotional support we need and they never fail us. Pluto is a worthy winner, showing us that a dog, even in their senior years, can literally hold a family together and provide the hope to keep going."
“Pluto has been so wonderful and saved a family from falling apart,” says Maria. “He gave me a hope and a purpose to wake up to a brighter day. The endless walks have been my haven and the new friends I have met during these walks have been an amazing support on such dark days. Eight years on, we are still treading the difficulties but Pluto continues to bring us together - as a counsellor for us and a companion for Alan. I am not saying this lightly, he has saved my life several times over by reminding me there will be better days ahead and he is there.”
A local Miniature Schnauzer and his owner are prize winners after entering a national award celebrating the powerful bond between dogs and their humans.
The Woof & Well Award was launched by Vet’s Kitchen in recognition of the contribution dogs make to the health and wellbeing of their family and others. Bertie and Jennifer’s entry immediately tugged at the heartstrings of everyone at Vet’s Kitchen who read their story.
Their story reveals how a dog, even a small one, can drastically change a person’s quality of life and be the perfect antidote to loneliness and unexpected heartache.
Jennifer Waite, 60, from Cowes, Isle of Wight, tragically lost her husband in 2019 just before the pandemic and the two lockdowns. Their adult children had left home and Jennifer found herself unexpectedly and suddenly living alone.
Jennifer decided to open her heart and home to an 8-week-old Miniature Schnauzer puppy, Bertie. He very soon became much more than just a companion.
made a huge impact on my mental and physical health,” says Jennifer. “He gives my days structure and is an endless source of joy. He has kept me company, entertained and cheerful through grief, the two pandemic lockdowns and ever since.”
Jennifer and Bertie, now 20 months old, go for three walks a day and this has open the door for both Jennifer and Bertie to make new friends, another lifeline when living alone. Bertie has also been instrumental in Jennifer’s recovery from a broken leg.
She says, “In 2020 I broke my leg and subsequently had to have a second operation in April 2021. My physiotherapist believes my leg's good recovery is partly due to the three walks a day Bertie and I do - come wind, rain or shine! Bertie has been the best physiotherapist!”
“We thought it was time to give our dogs recognition for their love and loyalty.” says Laura Shears, MD of Vet’s Kitchen. “Humans and their canine companions have always made for a winning team and more than ever in recent times, we have relied on them for the emotional support we need. Bertie is such a special pup and we wanted to recognise how much this little dog has given to Jennifer and made the biggest difference to a life."
“Having Bertie has hugely improved the quality of my life and my physical and mental wellbeing,” says Jennifer. “Bertie has been my constant companion since losing my husband. He is loved by everyone and this provides human interaction for both of us. He is always there for me and never fails to make me smile.”
But wait – what is Vet’s Klinic and what does it have to do with my pet food?
Based in Swindon, the HQ of Vet’s Kitchen pet food shares an interconnected building with its own in-house veterinary surgery Vet’s Klinic.
Vet’s Kitchen is the only pet food company in the UK to have a busy first opinion veterinary practice in the same premises. This means we have daily access to the expert opinions of our vets and vet nurses on the types of nutritional concerns owners have and conditions that have been caused by inappropriate diet. In addition, during development of our new recipes and products, we have their veterinary guidance on the best and most suitable ingredients and nutrients to use. Our food really is made with Vet Know-how®.
The only downside is that we also share a kitchen, so when we eat our lunch we have to listen to stories about anal glands and digestive upsets, but we’ve quickly become used to that!
From time to time, we will share news from Vet’s Klinic on our social media pages, so if you see them please give our hard working nurses and vets a ‘like’
Congratulations to Mariann Bayliss who won YKC (Young kennel club) Graduate agility for 12-17 year olds at Crufts with her dog Coral.
She also went on to win the YKC Agility Dog of the Year title at Crufts with her four year old border collie, Daniel.
Mariann said: “We were going second to last knowing everyone had a foul and that we would likely win with a clear. The pressure was enormous. It is all I have ever dreamed of.”
Congratulations Mariann, we're proud of your achievements and cannot wait to see what the next 12 months bring.
In 2021 we launched our first Woof & Well Award. We were looking for tales of everyday heroism from owners who wanted to thank their dog for helping them feel better over the past eighteen months. We have received some amazing entries, and choosing a winner was extremely difficult. However, Sarah & Roxy's touching story won our hearts.
Congratulations Sarah & Roxy!
Photo Credit: Andrew Lamb
Bath Cats and Dog’s Home is a charity close to our hearts. They are committed to the welfare of companion animals. They rescue, rehabilitate and rehome pets who are unwanted and far too often neglected or mistreated. They aim to promote responsible pet ownership through education. We tried to do our little bit to help care from the inside out and donated hundreds of meals to the vulnerable cats and dog they care for. “I just, first of all, wanted to say the most enormous thank you on behalf of the whole team here for the incredible delivery of food that we got from you today! We couldn’t believe how much there was – it will keep a lot of tummies fed for quite a while!”