A young woman from Crawley Down will attend the world’s biggest dog show Crufts after being named as a finalist in the Young Kennel Club’s Outstanding Young Person Award.
Imogen Woodman is one of five finalists.
The 20-year-old volunteers at Francis Court care home in Copthorne where her miniature labradoodle Millieworks as a therapy dog.
They keep residents company, including those who suffer with dementia.
Imogen said: “Millie will often go to people if they are distressed and likes getting a bit of fuss.
“She helps calm the residents down. She’s a people dog. It’s lovely to see the difference she makes to people, plus she and they enjoy it.
“I’ve known about the idea of therapy dogs for years but I was not old enough to do it.
“When we started it, she had not been able to do as many tricks because she was suffering with arthritis.
“But she is still active and wants to work so doing pet therapy is not physically straining but allows her to go out and see people.
“She goes up to people and they want to stroke her, others call her over.”
Imogen was 11 when she got Millie.
She took on her training and attended East Grinstead and District Dog Training Club.
Initially Millie was naughty but eventually managed to complete her Kennel Club Good Citizen gold award.
Imogen later found the type of training she enjoyed, which was doing tricks.
The nine-year-old miniature Labradoodle went on to appear on television with her owner, featuring on BBC shows Who Let the Dogs Out? and Officially Amazing, where they broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest ten metres travelled on a barrel by a dog.
Imogen said: “She was the worst puppy and nearly got kicked out of training classes but we carried on and she ended up getting her gold good citizens award.
“I was able to teach her lots of tricks so she has been on a couple of BBC programmes.
“We kept on training her and she really liked learning the tricks. It got her to focus. She’s my best friend really and has been since I got her.”
Imogen is now club secretary and helps with training classes.
She has also started studying a course in canine behaviour and training which she hopes will help launch a professional career in training dogs for films and TV.
She said: “I enjoy taking the classes to see other people with puppies progress.
“I would like to do some kind of dog training but would like to train them for film and TV. I’ve done a bit of that with Millie and enjoyed it.”