Four-legged Kilsyth hero a star at Crufts

Geri Horner with the Friends for Life finalists including Gayle Wilde and Taz (far left). Copyright Flick.digital
Geri Horner with the Friends for Life finalists including Gayle Wilde and Taz (far left). Copyright Flick.digital

A heroic rescue dog from Kilsyth who assisted in the Clutha disaster was recognised at last weekend’s Friends for Life competition at Crufts.

The Kennel Club, which runs the show, whittled 300 entrants for the titles down to five finalists including Gayle Wilde and Taz.

The 11-year-old border collie, who is senior search dog at Trossachs Search and Rescue in Scotland, won his category for the Extraordinary Life of a Working Dog award at Birmingham’s NEC Arena.

The top prize, presented by Geri Horner, went to border terrier Sir Jack Spratticus, the Breed Rescue Dog of the Year, and his owner Vanessa Holbrow, from Berrow – but Gayle still enjoyed her moment in the spotlight.

She said: “They were all amazing, but I was actually really hoping that Jack won. My money was on him.

“It’s been amazing and we’ve made friends who we’re going to keep in touch with after this, which is really, really nice.

“We have gone round all the halls and it’s immense, I didn’t expect it to be so huge. It’s my first experience of Crufts – so it’s like, ‘wow!’

“It’s just the sheer volume of dogs. I know that sounds crazy because it’s Crufts, but just the sheer volume of the different breeds – you’re constantly seeing a different one every time you turn around.

“I got really excited when I saw the Frenchies!”

The other Friends for Life finalists included Labrador-golden retriever cross Griffin, an assistance dog to owner Clare Syvertsen who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; and silver shih tzu Buttons, who remained loyal to 19-year-old Hannah Gates after she suffered a life-threatening case of ulcerative colitis.

Gayle and Taz, who are on call 365 days a year and work voluntarily, were nominated for their rescue efforts, including when they searched the Clutha pub in Glasgow for casualties after a police helicopter crash in 2013.

Gayle says Taz loved the attention on the famous green carpet, and was delighted to take home the Extraordinary Life of a Working Dog award.

She said: “He’s really loved it actually. He’s met a lot of different people, had a lot of claps, cuddles and photographs taken so he’s really enjoyed himself.

“The best thing for me is the fact Taz got picked and won his category, it means so much that he’s been recognized for the work he does, and that has blown me away completely.”