A woman has told of her delight after her dog was named the winner of our Santa Paws competition.
Leslie Littlejohn, 56, got a surprise when Evening Express staff turned up at her home in Banchory and announced her Cockapoo Rowie as the winning pooch.
Rowie bounced with joy as he was presented with a trophy and a hamper of festive treats alongside a canvas of his winning photograph.
He was one of 103 pooches snapped with Father Christmas during the competition.
Furry friends from across the north-east were given the chance to have their photograph taken as a precious festive memory.
Donations pledged by their owners raised almost £1,000 in aid of charity Charlie House, which supports children with disabilities and life-limiting conditions.
Leslie explained that her dog was named after one of the north-east’s favourite bakes due to his golden colour.
She said: “The original name was to be buttery, but the teacher in me kicked in and said no, we can’t have buttery, there’s too many syllables.
“So it was changed to the Aberdeen version, Rowie, instead.”
Leslie, her husband William and their 25-year-old daughter knew their pet had made it into the top three but had no idea they were the winners when they were surprised.
She said: “He’s just so cute and so sociable. He ran straight over to Santa Claus when he saw him.”
She said the family drove down to Montrose to view Rowie after spotting an advert in a local newspaper for him when he was a young puppy.
And their pet dog, who is now 18 months old, made a big impression. “We were told he was a miniature Cockapoo, but you don’t get miniature Cockapoos so he got bigger and bigger,” Leslie laughed.
All our Santa Paws entrants
“He doesn’t growl, he doesn’t bite and he loves our grandchildren. We have seven and they all adore him.”
She admits that the boisterous pooch is often hard to calm down, but they have found a way to let him let loose when he wants to burn off some energy.
Leslie said: “When he first came here, he discovered the cat flap because we have two cats, but he grew a bit big for it.
“Rather than just take it out, we decided to put a bigger cat flap in for him so he can shoot in and out of the door.
“We have a two-year-old grandchild who gets him to sit and takes food from him. We’re trying to train him to roll over, but its not working.”
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Rowie has a very special connection with their daughter Samantha. Leslie said: “He adores her and she adores him. He lies at the back of the window waiting for her to get home.”
Samantha, who works in a bank, decided to enter Rowie into the Evening Express competition after spotting the entry details on social media.
She said: “I saw the competition on Facebook and thought it was such a good idea.
“I’ve done a few events for Charlie House before and I did Run Balmoral for them.
“I didn’t think he would win at all. There were so many cute dogs in the competition!”
She added: “I’m so pleased he won, I think he’s the best.”
Donations of at least £5 per dog were given by the owners of all pets taking part. Every penny will go to the Charlie House Big Build appeal to help build a new respite centre for families in the city.