Two Vancouver dogs chosen from 50,000 pets to star in Dog Guides calendar

Vancouver Courier

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dog guides
Winston, ‘the cutest golden retriever on the planet.’
Photograph By JAMIE MCDOWELL

Vancouver pets Hana, a Great Dane, and Winston, a Golden Retriever, have given their owners official ‘I have the cutest dog’ bragging rights.

The pooches will soon be pin ups in hundreds of thousands of homes across Canada.

Pictures of Hana, who won’t go to bed unless her parents make it for her, and Winston, who isn’t very good at retrieving, were selected from nearly 50,000 entries to star in the 2019 Pet Valu calendar to support the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.

The print calendar features 15 Canadian pets, including dogs, cats, a ferret, chameleon and even a pot-bellied pig.

Alison Preiss, from Pet Valu, said judging the photo contest was one of the toughest and best jobs.

“I think what really put Hana and Winston over the top was they look so happy and serene and they are both in beautiful natural settings,” she said.

Winston’s owner, Jamie McDowell, said he was always taking pictures of Winston and thought he’d submit a favourite photo and see what happened.

“He just so happens to be the cutest golden retriever on the planet (ok sure, we are a little biased),” he said.

“We know there are a lot of cute pets across the country so we were thrilled when we found out that he had been chosen from thousands of entries.

“The icing on the cake was when we found out that the proceeds go to such a fantastic cause.”

McDowell said Winston brought joy to everyone he met and his smile always brightened up a room. And that’s pretty easy to see from his winning photo.

“His personality and stubbornness can be quite comedic and his welcome home snuggles are the best part of our day,” he said.

dog guides
Hana loves going hiking with her owners. – Jakob Schmidt

Hana’s owner, Jakob Schmidt, said he often took pictures when out hiking with Hana and chose to submit a photo of her in the beautiful West Coast landscape.

“We always get comments when out walking, although most of the time, I think it’s just because of her size…. And yes, the horse comparison gets old real quick,” he said.

“I’m sure every pet owner thinks that their pet is special. The most special thing about her is that she’s our dog. Having said that, we know that she is pretty photogenic and there aren’t that many blue Great Danes around.”

He said it was “pretty crazy” she was selected out of so many pet entries.

“Although, I would say that we had an unfair advantage with the amazing backdrops right in our backyard,” Schmidt said.

But it’s not just about gorgeous, loveable pets; the donations from the calendars go towards sponsoring teams at Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.

“Dog Guides does not receive any government funding, and each life-changing dog costs approximately $25,000 to raise, train and place,” Preiss said.

“We like to say it helps people organize their own lives, and change the lives of Canadians living with disabilities.”

One hundred per cent of the donations go to the foundation. The calendar is available for a give-what-you-can donation at all Pet Valu stores across Canada.

To learn more about the program, check out their website here.