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‘My companion’: Armagh woman’s joy as much-loved Lily lifts national title

A much-loved pooch rescued from a puppy farm by an Armagh woman two years ago has won a national competition for healthy and happy pets.

Lily – a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – has been named ‘Britain’s Most Active Pet’.

The accolade has been bestowed by the National Office of Animal Health.

And Lily’s proud owner, Mairead Hughes, said she is “absolutely delighted” to hear the news.

She said: “Lily was rescued from a puppy farm in June 2014 at the age of 18 months and I fell for her immediately.

“She is a joy to have as my companion and loves the outdoors so it’s wonderful that her playful, active nature has been recognised in this way!”

Lily was chosen from over 140 entries by a judging panel from NOAH, with the help of two guest judges – Marie Carter, Editor of Pets Magazine, and Sarah Kidby, from PetFocus, who selected the shortlist.

Lily’s athletic abilities and spirited nature caught the attention of the judges during the competition, which ran as part of the organisation’s Happy, Healthy Pets Project – an online gallery aiming to build the UK’s largest ever picture of pet health.

Following its launch in 2015, the Happy Healthy Pets Project now stands at over 2,000 fantastic images of much-loved pets from all over the UK, making it the biggest gallery of its kind and helping put owners in the picture when it comes to pet health, by directing them to independent, expert advice on

NOAH Chief Executive, Dawn Howard said Lily was a real winner in the judges’ eyes!

“Judging by the number and quality of entries we’ve received for the competition, it’s not just pet owners who love to keep fit and active, but their pets too,” she said.

“We spotted Lily’s sporty potential straight away and are delighted to name her as our active pets winner. We hope her picture and athletic outlook inspires other pets and owners alike.

“Helping our pets to get active plays a vital role in their physical and mental wellbeing – all part of the ‘Happy Healthy Pet’ our photo gallery promotes. Whatever your pet’s favourite activity, it’s important that all animals are given an environment where they can live happily and healthily and benefit from the exercise they need.

“It’s encouraging to see so many pictures of pets in the UK doing just that.”

Marie Carter, Editor of Pets Magazine – who shortlisted Lily to win the competition – said all entries were of such a high standard that it was extremely difficult to choose finalists and an eventual winner.

She added: “Our winner Lily looks so happy in this photo. She’s running so fast, she’s taken off! Her ears are flying and she’s sporting a huge grin. She must be chasing her owner who has treats, or else a squirrel!

“Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are wrongly judged as lap dogs but, as this photo proves, they can be very sporting dogs who just so happen to like a nice warm lap too!”

For more information or to submit photos to NOAH’s Happy, Healthy Pets Gallery, simply visit

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