A young dog lover and his Labrador will put their special relationship to the test when they take centre stage at next month’s Crufts.
11-year-old Oscar Tarbox from Plumpton has been working with dogs since he was two years old.
He and his black Labrador Skya, who he begged his mum to keep when she was a puppy, have been nominated for Young Kennel Club Shaun McAlpine Outstanding Young Person Award at the show.
Oscar said: “The nomination feels amazing. It would certainly make me very happy if I won since I have been working with dogs for a long time and it would be nice to be appreciated for the work I’ve done.
“I have been working with gun dogs since I was two years old. I’ve gone through a lot with Skya and she’s been through a lot too and we have a very special relationship.
“We also have her mother here with us, Skya was one of her puppies that I begged Mum to keep and eventually she let me after I proved I could look after her.”
Oscar first went to Crufts when he was five.
“I was in the gun dog ring with the water spaniel that my mum now trains,” he explained.
The award, listed under Sporting Talent of the Year category, is the highest level of achievement for the country’s young dog owners.
Oscar, who attends Tavistock and Summerhill School, is following in his family’s dog-loving footsteps, and has been taking part in the handling classes.
His mum Judy said: “It runs in our family. I followed in my dad’s footsteps and now he’s followed in mine, it’s brilliant.”
This year Oscar won the Bowood House Junior Scurry Award with Skya.
Oscar said he is relishing the chance to be in the spotlight at the world’s largest dog show at Birmingham’s NEC on Sunday March 8.
The overall winner will be decided via an online public vote and Caroline Kisko, secretary for the Kennel Club, insists whatever the outcome, Oscar and Skya had been an example to others.
“Year after year we are told of amazing young people like Oscar working with and helping dogs,” she said. “This award serves to highlight the fantastic way that young people and dogs can interact to perform such wonderful feats in society.The five finalists and their families should be very proud, as they are such great examples of young people working with dogs to help their community.”
The winners from the five categories and their dogs have all been invited to a presentation ceremony at Crufts.