Top dog Rusty takes a bow-wow

Rebecca Ashworth with Rusty.
Rebecca Ashworth with Rusty.

WHEN Rusty the springer spaniel didn’t make the grade as a police drugs dog, his life looked a little ruff.

But little did owner Rebecca Ashworth expect that her puppy would grow up to become an international star.

Not only is six-year-old Rusty now a famous model with a job in healthcare, but he’s also won a shot at acrobatic glory in the canine equivalent of the Olympics.

He and Rebecca have qualified for the national agility final to be held at Crufts, the largest dog show in Europe, in March, putting them in the top 20 in the UK.

Twenty-year-old Rebecca, who studies sociology and geography at Newcastle University, started agility training at Northumberland Canine Centre near Alnwick three years ago with advanced agility instructor Jim Wright.

And since then the pair have been taking a bow-wow-wow at numerous shows and local championships, with many awards and certificates to show for it.

Rebecca, from Widdrington, said: “I qualified this time by collecting points throughout the year for clear rounds in agility and jumping competitions throughout the UK, which I logged in an agility record book.

“I then sent the book away and received a letter from The Kennel Club saying I was qualified for the YKC Medium Agility Final 2011.

“I am very excited and so pleased for Rusty as he gives me 100 per cent in everything he does.”

But Rusty has proved to have many other talents.

He is a registered visiting Pets As Therapy Dog and has featured in the top-selling American ‘Page A Day’ 365 dogs calendar 2009, as well as appearing and competing in Europe’s Top Dog, broadcast on Sky’s Animal Planet.

And if that’s not enough to give paws for thought, Rusty is also a national model, appearing on Morrison’s pet food packaging.

He was also the first dog to be signed to Newcastle-based Boho Models and took part in a photoshoot for a major caravan company for their 2010 brochures.

Rebecca added: “When Rusty was a puppy, he was trained as a drugs detection dog but failed his crucial search test. Maybe police life wasn’t for him, but he’s come a long way in many other things.”

Rebecca and Rusty have already appeared at the prestigous Crufts show when qualifying for the Young Kennel Club Agility finals and also as a winner of the Shaun McAlpine award, presented to members who have accomplished something fantastic in the dog world.