Hundreds of dog-lovers entered their pets into this year’s Ruffs competition - and five finalists were chosen for the ‘Best Transformation’ category
Hundreds of pet owners entered and thousands of votes have been cast - and now, one of the winners in the RSPCA’s alternative dog show, Ruffs 2016, has been revealed.
Ruffs celebrates the country’s dogs for their health and happiness unlike conventional dog shows which look at their appearance and breed standard.
Dogs of all shapes, sizes, breeds, cross-breeds and backgrounds were free to enter one of three categories: Happiest Hound, Perfectly Imperfect, and Best Transformation.
The Best Transformation category was launched to celebrate the heartwarming and astounding transformations of dogs who had been the victims of the most cruel and callous treatment, but have been rescued and had their lives turned around.
And Staffordshire bull terrier, Buddy, received more than 3,700 votes online to be crowned Best Transformation champion.
He was found by Nicola Owst, abandoned and locked in a cage on the outskirts of north London. The nine-month-old pup was laying in his own mess, had severe demodectic mange, and was extremely underweight - weighing just 3kgs.
Buddy couldn't stand as the pads of his paws were so sore and because his muscles were so weak - probably a result of never having been able to move freely.
“I drove him 86 miles to my vets, constantly checking that he was alive along the way,” Nicola said. “The vet thought that Buddy had no chance of survival, but I wanted to try…”
“After lots of love and care, and visits to the vets, my little boy pulled through.
“Buddy's skin will never fully recover due to the severe neglect, but with a special diet, good flea treatment, and a special shampoo, it has improved hugely. He now also weighs a healthy 17kgs.”
Lucky Buddy, now aged around eight, now lives a healthy and happy life with Nicola and husband, Jon, in Kibworth, Leicestershire.
“One of Buddy's favourite things is going for outings in the car,” Nicola said. “I'm convinced his love of the car comes from the very first day I took him from that horrible place - the car was Buddy’s escape from that horrible life.
“Buddy is my best friend. A lot of people say how lucky Buddy is that I found him but really, I think I am the lucky one.”
RSPCA campaign manager Ari Winfield said: “Buddy is a gorgeous boy with such a sweet nature, despite the neglect he suffered. He is such a worthy winner, as were all of the finalists. I know I wouldn’t have been able to choose just one to vote for.”
Four other amazing stories of strength and hope were also shortlisted as finalists:
Dreadlock was found wandering the streets in Thailand in 2010 with a terrible skin condition (pictured left) that had resulted in almost total fur loss. Luckily, he was taken in by Soi Dog rescue centre, for treatment.
His condition improved vastly, though it was unlikely his fur would ever grow back fully.
In June 2015, after five years with the organisation, Susan Frost, from Stockton-on-Tees, came across his photo on the Soi Dog website, and knew right away that he was the one for her.
“You wouldn’t have known Dreadlock used to be a stray,” she said. “He is so affectionate, and he loves to push his whole body into you for a cuddle.
“Though he does have some rather unusual habits - like digging for bugs. It seems you can take the dog out of the street, but not the street out of the dog!”
“And being a street dog, it goes without saying he loves his food - and he’s quite spoilt with me as he gets two yummy fish dinners a day, which also help with his skin condition.”
Dreadlock, who is around 10-years-old, is now well and truly treated like a king and, although he’ll always be a little patchy, all of the love and care he has been given has meant his fur is slowly returning.
Lily, eight, was abused and scarred by her previous owners, who threw boiling water over her.
Thankfully, she was rescued by the DSPCA in Ireland, and went into foster so she could get the care she needed while her third-degree burns were healing. She was then adopted by her loving owner, Sarah-Jayne Lawlor, in 2011.
Sarah, from Powys, Wales, said: “Lily is a typical Staffie and her heart is bursting full of love to give to everyone she meets.
“She has had such a difficult life - from the abuse she experienced from her former owners, to being sick with mammary tumours, womb infections, and eye operations.
“But she is a gentle and happy soul, and her zest for life has never faded. Lily loves nothing better than chasing and destroying balls on the beach (pictured above), or exploring the Welsh hills, followed by tasty sausages and cosy cuddles by the fire.
“She is a wonder dog. She even donated blood last year to save a fellow Staffie in need so she's also a special hero! Her wonderful, affectionate nature is testament to her will to just love and be loved.”
Cavalier King Charles spaniel Mia, nine, was severely neglected by her previous owners and was found underweight and riddled with fleas, which left her with nasty scabs and hair loss.
An RSPCA inspector was alerted to the situation, in London, by a neighbour, and Mia was rescued. It was at one of the charity’s animal hospitals that hospital assistant Jennifer Schube laid eyes on her.
“I fell in love with her straight away,” says Jennifer.
Two years later and they all live happily in Hampstead, London - they’ve never looked back.
“Mia has become a very much-loved member of our family,” Jennifer added. “She bosses the cat around and babies our guinea pigs, and we can't believe she hasn't always been here. She is our baby and we can't imagine our lives without her.”
Bridie was rescued by the RSPCA from “some of the worst conditions ever seen”. She was found in a shed in Bradford with 11 other Irish Setters - kept in small, filthy cages, with no bedding or even access to water. The dogs were dehydrated and underweight, and were cruelly left to suffer with untreated injuries and infections.
Bridie, now aged four, was terrified of the outside world. It took over a year of love, training, and TLC from animal centre staff, but Bridie eventually transformed into an affectionate and happy dog.
Julia Wrathall adopted Bridie who now lives in Horsham, West Sussex, and enjoys going into work every day. At home, she’s bouncy, energetic, affectionate and sometimes quite mischievous!
Julia said: “Her wonderfully positive nature has shone through, despite the horrors of her former life.
“This incredible transformation is huge testament to her willingness to grab hold of her ‘second chance’ with both paws. She is so inspiring, and it is almost impossible to feel ‘down’ in her presence. I feel really privileged to have her in my life.”