Dozens of pretty pooches travel to Leeds to compete in Pride-themed Furbabies pageant

Dog owners from across the country travelled to Leeds this weekend to enter their pretty pooches into a Pride-themed pageant.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 5:29 pm
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 5:30 pm

The Furbabies pageant, run by June and Phil Hodgkins, took place at the Memorial Hall in Collingham, near Wetherby, on Sunday.

Owners competed with their dogs for prizes across six categories: best queen, king, prince, princess, lady duo and gentleman duo.

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The event's co-organiser, June Hodgkins, with her two Long Coat Chihuahuas - Pixie, two, and Genevieve, three (Photo: James Hardisty)

Dogs were dressed in extravagant costumes, many hand-crafted, following the theme 'rainbow pride'.

Although the ongoing fuel crisis meant numbers were lower than expected, around sixty people travelled to the event to enter their pets into the competition.

June, 64, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "The theme was in support of Pride and the NHS, and encouraging people to show pride in anything, like what they do for work.

“If the dogs don’t like to be dressed they can wear a harness, a collar, a little hat or a bow tie - as long as it fits the theme, they won’t get downgraded for that.

Gemma Watson, from Kilmarnock in Scotland, with her dog Mia - a six-year-old Cocker Spaniel who won the Best Queen category (Photo: James Hardisty)

“It’s all fun, to get people interacting with their dogs and spending time with them. The dogs absolutely love it.

“We don’t get much sponsorship, so it comes from passion.”

Three-year-old Barney the Beagle scooped the Best King prize for his rainbow cape and pink rainbow leg warmers, while six-year-old Cocker Spaniel Mia came away with Best Queen for her flamboyant Carnival-style dress and rainbow socks.

June and Phil launched Furbabies in 2019 in the hope of bringing pet owners and their pooches together for fun-filled competitions.

Sarah Foster, from Halifax, with three-year-old Barney the Beagle - who won Best King

“It really lifts people’s spirits, especially since Covid," June said.

"People needed an outlet.”

The Wetherby couple are now preparing for the next Furbabies pageant, a Halloween-themed event next month, followed by a Christmas pageant.

“It keeps the dogs socialising,” Phil, 65, added.

“That was a big problem during lockdown and a lot of puppies haven’t had that socialisation. They come to the pageant to meet other dogs and all the dogs are very well behaved.

“We look at it as like a service to the canine world, providing an experience - and people come back time and time again to our events.

“It’s very competitive, but people are well behaved too!”

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