A TEENAGE dog lover is preparing to demonstrate her canine handling skills at a flagship event billed as the world’s biggest dog show.
Hannah Butters, 17, and her pet dog Daisy have qualified for the Agility Dog of the Year final at the prestigious Crufts show in March.
Hannah finished second in her qualifying event in Edinburgh last August, and was left disappointed after wrongly being told that only the winner went through to the final.
However, she was later ecstatic after getting an extra Christmas present in the form of a letter telling her that she had qualified after all.
Hannah – who lives in Felton, Northumberland, and is a student at Collingwood Special School in Morpeth – says dog training has become the greatest passion in her life since she took it up four years ago.
She is counting down the days to putting Daisy through her paces at the Young Kennel Club agility competition at the NEC in Birmingham.
They will be performing for the judges in front of several thousand people in the main arena at the four-day show.
Hannah fell in love with dog training when she was taken to Crufts as a birthday present by her mum Lynn, and was entranced by the agility classes.
She started training at the Northumberland Canine Centre, and joined the North Northumberland Dog Training Club, when she was 13, with her six-year-old Labrador Guinness.
Her current dog Daisy is a Sprocker – a cross between a cocker and springer spaniel – and Hannah has had her for two years since she was a puppy.
She got her with the intention of doing both working trials and agility, and Daisy has excelled in both disciplines.
Yesterday Hannah, who has her own agility course in the garden at home and is also competing in a team event, said: “I’m really excited and looking forward to Crufts. I’ve always wanted to compete there, but never thought I would. Daisy is my best dog and we are a real partnership.
“The dog training club is my world and I wouldn’t know what to do without it. I’ve made lots of friends there and they always help and support me in everything I do. I would really like to thank my trainers at the club, Jacquie, Ally and Sharon, for all they have done for me.”
Mrs Butters, who also has a son Harry, 21, said: “Hannah can’t wait for the Crufts show and is very excited. She did lots of competition throughout last year, as well as displays at country shows, but she might still be a bit nervous with it being Crufts.
“She leaves school this year and would love to work with dogs, and this sort of success can only help her.”
Jacquie Hall, instructor and owner at the Northumberland Canine Centre and chairman of the dog training club, said: “We will all be going down to Birmingham to cheer Hannah on. It will be a massive thing for her in front of such a big crowd.
“She is a lovely girl, very emotional and works so hard. She is a wonderful asset to our club and she has been an absolute pleasure to train. Her results with Daisy show just how hard she works and how dedicated she is to her training.”