Come one, come all – it's the moment you've been waiting for! We launched Asda's first Pet Factor Awards back in our Good Living April Issue and you entered in your droves. Now we can finally reveal the UK's most fabulous furry friends as Judge Joe Swash met the lucky winners and their owners in an exclusive Good Living shoot. Read on to find out what happened...
TV presenter and Pet Factor judge Joe Swash is greeted with a slobbery kiss (from Ice the Labrador, FYI) as he enters the studio where we’re celebrating Asda’s Pet Factor 2016 winners. While owner Lauren bribes Rocco the French bulldog with ham to sit still for the camera, dogs Ice and Ruby are sussing out the competition. Our judges, including pet expert Zara Boland and editors Nic Davey and Ally Oliver, deliberated for hours, but here are their top picks – and some very worthy runners up... Hankies at the ready!
Best Companion: Ice, the Labrador
Tracey Rendell, 40, from Swindon, is a single mum to Kirsten, 19, Laurence, 14, Owen, nine, and Archie, six
'Glancing out of the window, I watched as my son Owen, then eight, tried to play with some kids in our street. “Go away, Owen!” they said to him. It absolutely broke my heart. Owen was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was four – a type of autism that makes it difficult for him to relay or read emotion. Even though he goes to a mainstream school, he struggled to make friends and never went on play dates. Owen had no concept of safety, and had meltdowns if I took him to the dentist. It was so stressful as a single parent, it was easier to stay at home.
Then, 18 months ago, I got in touch with Dogs for Good, a charity that supplies trained assistance dogs to kids and adults with disabilities. After an assessment, Owen was put on a waiting list and, in October 2015, the charity arrived with Ice, a two-year-old Labrador. He and Owen clicked immediately. Shortly after that, Ice moved in, and our lives changed overnight.
Wearing a harness with a handle for Owen to hold, Ice comes everywhere with us, even to the dentist. We’re not stuck at home any more, and Owen is so much happier. The pair are inseparable – Owen calls Ice his best friend.
Thanks to Ice, Owen has also made new friends. At the school gate, kids come up to say hello to Ice. A few weeks ago, he had his first party invitation, too. Winning Pet Factor has meant so much; Owen has been watching Joe Swash videos on YouTube in excitement! Ice has been a companion, a comfort, and a lifeline. He’s made one little boy happy at last.'
Milly the Cat
William’s anxiety about going to his school in Cornwall was overcome when Milly Moos walked beside him all the way there.
Tallulah the Bunny
This social house bunny greets owner Emily, from Brierley Hill, at her gate every day – and was the perfect host to a rescue rabbit and her babies.
Ace Adventurers: Guinea Pigs Daisy & Poppy
Carly Lumley, 35, a full-time mum, lives in Shipley, West Yorkshire, with her husband Charles, 35, and their daughter Freya, four
'Freya had one thing on her mind in the lead-up to her third birthday – guinea pigs. Obsessed, she pestered and pestered until my husband Charles and I caved in. On her birthday, in March 2015, we got two girls – Freya named them Daisy and Poppy after the twins in the TV programme, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. Freya was immediately smitten.
Not long after, we visited family in Cleethorpes, and took Daisy and Poppy with us. During the 90-minute drive, they were happy as Larry. Since then, the guinea pigs have come everywhere with us: Grimsby, London and even a caravan holiday in Dorset. That drive was so long, we had to make a few pit stops so they could stretch their little legs, but they loved the caravan and the sea air! Now, if anyone asks us to stay the night, they know the guinea pigs will be coming, too. They’re 100% part of the family.
So much so, we threw a birthday party for them in February, complete with party hats and presents. Freya’s forever having tea parties with them, taking them for spins in her toy car or for walkies on a pink lead.
We reckon we’ve got the most well-travelled guinea pigs in the UK. Finding out we’d won was so exciting – Freya’s been telling everyone that Daisy and Poppy are going to be famous. As for their next adventure, who knows? The guinea pigs might go global!'
Ginger the Chicken
Intrepid Ginger loves to roam the streets of Fife, but owner Daisy says she’ll fall asleep in your arms after!
Edna the Bulldog
Forget the couch potato stereotype, this chunky dynamo from Preston loves to swim and climb trees, says owner Sarah.
Top Hero: Ruby, the Springer Spaniel
Hayley Holmes, 33, is a trainee quantity surveyor who lives in Reigate with her partner Mark Packham, 46, and their three-year-old son Riley
'From the minute we brought Ruby home from the breeders nine years ago, my partner Mark and I were utterly smitten. This fluffy brown and white springer spaniel pup was so full of mischief and life, she instantly became a very important part of the family.
In 2012, I fell pregnant. One winter night when I was six-months gone, at around 1am, Ruby started frantically barking and jumping up
and down. She’d never done that before, so Mark went downstairs, thinking she must need a wee. But Ruby refused to go outside and, instead, ran to the cupboard under the stairs and wouldn’t budge.
Eventually, Mark opened the door to show her there was nothing in there apart from a fuse box. But when he did, smoke came pouring out. Mark ran upstairs to tell me we had to leave immediately, then we phoned 999 and, five minutes later, the fire brigade turned up. Afterwards, they said there was an electrical fault in the fuse box, and, if Ruby hadn’t woken us up, it would have killed us.
Finding out Ruby had won Pet Factor was the best feeling ever. She saved our lives – and our son Riley’s, too. If that’s not heroic, I don’t know what is.'
Polly the Cockapoo
This miracle mutt from Chatham detected her owner Linda’s breast cancer by repeatedly sniffing her chest and arm, encouraging her to go to the doctor.
Flash the Golden Retriever
Fearless Flash from Hucknall badly broke his neck chasing a fox away from his owner Lisa’s two daughters. Brave pooch!
Most stylish: Rocco, the French Bulldog
Lauren Dwyer, 30, is a police community support officer who lives in Coventry with her partner Martin Griffiths, 39, and their two daughters Kiara, 10, and four-year-old Lila-Belle
'Parading through the park in his Batman costume, our French bulldog Rocco drew gasps of delight from everyone. Kids came running over, and even adults couldn’t resist cooing.
I’d been desperate for a French bulldog since I saw one in a film a few years earlier. But since we already had a 10-year-old staffie called Dodger, my other half Martin needed some convincing...
I eventually talked Martin round so, in February 2016, we bought eight-week-old Rocco from a breeder. When Dodger was a pup, I’d bought him a few coats to wear but he wasn’t keen. Undeterred, I tried again with Rocco. His first outfit was that Batman costume, which I bought online for just £5. Rocco didn’t seem to mind. So since then I’ve bought lots of cute clothes, including a tuxedo, some hoodies, blinged-up collars and leads. He’s even got a fairy costume.
I buy most things on sale or online, so I don’t spend a fortune. He’s got more outfits than me! Apart from being stylish, it’s his lovely temperament that makes him such a star, and that’s why I entered Pet Factor. We were over the moon to find out he’d won – a style icon at just five months. He’ll be on the cover of Elle by the time he's fully grown!'
Toby the Pony
This stylish steed from Nottingham loves wearing his onesie! It keeps him clean before shows and he loves posing for the camera, says his owner, Lauren.
Batdog the Cockapoo
Flying the flag for Batman once again, Bruce Wayne or ‘Batdog’ from Sutton-in-Ashfield is a style icon in his local park says owner, Tammie.
Let us know what you think of the winners by using #goodliving on social media, and don't forget to treat your furry friends with the great range of pet supplies available at Asda online and in-store!