Scotland’s Best Dog: Christmas joy for Olympian Hannah Miley as cute pet Cocker Spaniel is named Scotland’s Best Dog

Olympic swimmer Hannah Miley is used to being top dog in the pool – and she’s struck gold again after her beloved pet was named Scotland’s Best Dog.
Olympic Swimmer Hannah Miley has struck gold again after her beloved pet, Poppy, was named Scotland’s Best Dog. Photo: Thomas SkinnerOlympic Swimmer Hannah Miley has struck gold again after her beloved pet, Poppy, was named Scotland’s Best Dog. Photo: Thomas Skinner
Olympic Swimmer Hannah Miley has struck gold again after her beloved pet, Poppy, was named Scotland’s Best Dog. Photo: Thomas Skinner

Poppy, a working Cocker Spaniel from Aberdeen, beat off canine competition from four other furry finalists to be awarded the coveted Golden Bone trophy in the series finale of the popular BBC Scotland show.

Poppy made quite a splash on the show’s judges – broadcaster and dog lover Kaye Adams, animal behaviourist River McDonald and Scottish SPCA veteran, and dog trainer, Alan Grant – during a special hour-long finale filmed at the Scotland’s Best Dog arena in Perthshire.

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Olympian Hannah, 32, is thrilled with the result, saying: “I’m so delighted for Poppy – it’s like a proud parent moment!

“Feels a tad surreal but I haven’t been able to stop smiling.

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“I was nervous to start with because I didn’t know what to expect being part of Scotland’s Best Dog and being on a show in front of people.

“I’ve never really done that other than when I’m competing swimming – and at least I know what I’m doing then. But Poppy taught me to relax and enjoy the moment.

“We met some great owners and their dogs and hopefully we will have a contestant reunion for a big Scotland’s Best Dog walk or get-together.”

Made by Red Sky Productions, Scotland’s Best Dog went on a quest to find the most-cherished canine characters who have heart-warming bonds with their owners.

Over five weeks of hotly contested heats, the pooches – along with their proud humans – were tested on a number of challenges including recall, bond and agility skills in front of the Scotland’s Best Dog judges.

Like her owner, Poppy loves water whether it’s swimming, jumping or paddle-boarding in it.

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Hannah spent lockdown training Poppy to do perfect tricks. Whilst recovering from a shoulder injury, Hannah focused her attentions on finding creative ways to train Poppy – even teaching her to pack a swim bag when the pools reopened.

“Without Poppy I don’t know how my fiancé Euan and I would have managed lockdown,” says Hannah. “My shoulder rehab post-op and the all the highs and lows, both mental and emotionally, over the last two years.

“She gave us a purpose when we felt lost and overwhelmed – she makes us laugh if we ever feel down.

“We taught her to tidy, putting her toys back in the box – so I figured I could replace the box with a bag and replace the toys with swimming kit.

“Poppy knew exactly what to do – I don’t know many dogs who can pack, and unpack, a bag! Spaniels love carrying things in their mouths so it helped feed that enjoyment for her.”

Judge and dog lover Kaye Adams congratulated Poppy on her win: “I think consistency was what swung it for Hannah and Poppy. That Olympian training shone through! The attention to detail was spot on but they still have a lovely relationship.

“The final really was a bit of a nail biter. The positions swapped on a number of occasions across the five tasks but Poppy nosed it."

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