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​Golden George named Scotland's top dog

Press Release   •   May 09, 2016 10:28 BST

He clearly couldn’t put a paw wrong … over 200 dogs applied, but there could only be one chosen to be VisitScotland’s Ambassadog. And that dog is George, a one-year-old Golden Retriever from Glasgow.

Sisters Victoria and Emma Rae, both 22, put George forward for the coveted role in March, after VisitScotland launched the search for a canine ambassador to represent the spirit of Scotland around the world.

George (and his owners) will now have the job of being an ambassador for Scotland on social media, attending red carpet events and generally being in demand as a VID (or ‘very important dog’).

The lucky pup joined his seven fellow selected finalists at a special interview event at Prestonfield in Edinburgh on Sunday, 8 May where dog owners were assessed on their knowledge of Scotland, social media savvy and interview skills.

Owner Victoria said:

“It’s really unexpected and I still can’t quite believe George has been chosen; especially as there were so many lovely dogs in the final. I am very proud of him.

“We love going on adventures around Scotland and George has a very sociable and curious nature. He loves other people and animals. I feel with him I can explore and visit places I wouldn’t usually get to see – his determined spirit and boundless energy is what we need to get us to the top of mountain treks and he loves a splash about in the water at Loch Lomond.

“I feel George is a great ambassador for Scotland as he is always looking for to his next voyage. A golden retriever is also a Scottish breed, which a lot of people don’t know. My ambition for him in his new role as ambassadog is that he takes us on a lot more journeys - we plan to go to Harris and Lewis at the end of this month - and we can inspire others to plan their next exploration around the country”.

Helen Campbell, Head of Global Brand & Marketing Communications at VisitScotland, was on the judging panel at the final alongside TV personality Kaye Adams and representatives from Denholm Associates (who helped launch the search for the Ambassadog) and the charity Dogs’ Trust to select the Ambassadog.

Helen said:

“I was delighted to see the warmth and passion that shone through the owners and dogs who came along to meet us at Prestonfield; it was honestly a very tough job to select one. However, with George there was certainly something very special indeed with his exuberance and big personality, definitely a lovable nature and a very special bond with his owners.”

VisitScotland will now work with George and his owners to create a programme of activity, to include social media that will enable them to be global ambassadors. In return they will be given a three night specially selected dog-friendly holiday in Scotland in 2016. George and his owners will also contribute to their own blog page on www.visitscotland.com/blog/scotland/ambassadog/

The dogs in the final were:

George, Golden Retriever (age 1) from Glasgow

Owners: Emma and Victoria Rae

A loveable, energetic pup with a big heart, George was put forward for the role of Ambassadog by student Emma and her identical twin sister, Victoria. Although only a puppy, George has already had plenty of adventures across Scotland from the west end of Glasgow to one of his favourite places Loch Lomond where he likes to get his paws wet. He currently has 14.8k followers on his Instagram page golden_george_

Cassie, Patterdale terrier/collie cross (age 3 ½) from Haddington, East Lothian

Owners: Andrew and Carol Duff

Rescued from a stray-shelter in Romania, adventure-loving Cassie has found a new lease of life with her owners Andy & Carol in East Lothian. From the Tyningham beach to the Lammermuir Hills, Cassie has walked them all. Cassie also treads a paw behind Andy, an Outdoor Instructor, along more adventurous journeys over all of the 4000 foot Munros; as well as helping Carol, an artist, find inspiration among local sights. Cassie has her own dedicated Facebook page www.facebook.com/cassietherescuedog

Cluanie, Jack Russell (age 4), from North Kessock near Inverness

Owner: Micky Jones

Little Cluanie found fame as the Jack Russell who conquered Ben Nevis in a kilt. Alongside his human companion, Micky, a foreman for Morrison Construction from North Kessock in the Highlands, he has also conquered 59 of the Munro range in the last two years. Cluanie and Micky regularly raise money for the Highland Hospice and received a medal last year as the only dog who has completed the 26.02 Great Glencoe Challenge. Cluanie loves nothing more than posing for the camera! You can follow Cluanie’s adventures online including his Facebook page www.facebook.com/Cluanie

Blaze, Border Collie (age 4), from Portree, Isle of Skye

Owner: Steve Millar

A local celebrity on the Isle of Skye, Blaze has conquered many a Munro and raised over £1,000 for the Glencoe Mountain Rescue through sales of his 2014 calendar. Blaze loves to entertain the tourists and residents with his tricks. He is just as happy in the water… or on it canoeing, as he is up mountains, or getting towed around by bike in his ‘Blazemobile’ buggy. His adventures are recorded on twitter.com/Blazespage

Fenton, Shetland sheepdog (age 4), from Lerwick, Shetland

Owner: Kaylee Robertson

Fenton is a dog that loves to explore – from the wild seas and rolling hills and other places of interest or beauty in Shetland, including the burn of Lunklet, Bannamin beach and the Noness cliffs. She also loves to travel, via boat or air to Inverness and on into the rest of Scotland. Fenton lives with her owner Kaylee, an ambulance technician and amateur dog photographer, and three other dogs. Fenton’s adventures are recorded on Instagram under the Hobbitpaws name.

Manny, Border Collie (age 11 months), from Dalgety Bay, Fife

Owner: Vicky Gorn

The youngest of the bunch, Manny isn’t short of charm and loves an adventure – from the Fife Coastal Path to Torridon & Westray in Orkney. One of her favourite spots is the Bridge of Lochay Hotel in Killin where there wasn’t a shortage of cuddles for this well-travelled pooch. Manny also loves a weekend spent watching her human friends play sport, whilst also enjoying the odd agility class. Check out Manny’s adventure’s at facebook.com/manny.gorn

Sydney, Pug (age 4) from Edinburgh

Owner: Kristyn Lavery

A small dog with a big heart, Sydney loves to charm the folks around Edinburgh on her walks up Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill and the Pentland Hills. Calling themselves ‘Scotland’s adventure couple’, Sydney and her owner, Kristyn, a nurse, love nothing more than jumping into the car and head off on another adventure – be it to sitting by the River Teith enjoying a delicious hake supper or driving to Loch Etive in Glencoe. Clearly a pug with endurance that is destined to go far!

Bertie, Fox Terrier (age 6) from Aberdeen

Owner: Dr Gail Riekie

Officially named Granddach Beinn Allign (after the Torridon Munro), but better known as Bertie, this fox terrier divides his time between Aberdeen and a cottage on the shores of Loch Torridon. He has travelled extensively all over Scotland with his owner Gail, a geophysicist, from dog-friendly cafés in Aberdeen to Glen Tanar and Morven on Deeside, quaint villages of East Neuk and an epic ascent of Maol Chean-dearg. His adventures are chronicled on the blog www.bouncingbertie.blogspot.com

Image caption: George the Golden Retriever from Glasgow named VisitScotland’s Ambassadog or International Canine Ambassador – pictured with owner Victoria Rae at Prestonfield House, Edinburgh

Notes to Editors

About Denholm Associates

Denholm Associates specialises in executive search, recruitment and talent attraction for commercial roles – the business generators in sales, marketing, creative, data and digital communications. To find out more, visit www.denholmassociates.com For more information, images or interviews, call Holly Garland at garlandpr on 07958 363538.

About Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and cares for around 17,000 dogs a year through its network of 21 rehoming centres. Dogs Trust is working towards the day when all dogs can enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of destruction. For more information please visit www.dogstrust.org.uk

About the Ambassadog campaign:

  • The Ambassadog search was open to all dogs from all regions of Scotland who currently reside in Scotland
  • The chosen Ambassadog and owner will have a holiday paid and arranged for them to a destination in Scotland (negotiated through the dog owner and VisitScotland) in 2016. No cash alternative may be given. This will be for a maximum of three nights and at a destination agreed between VisitScotland and the dog’s owner.
  • The dog owner will be expected to share their travels and adventures in Scotland with their dog on social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) throughout 2016. This account will be managed and updated by the dog’s owner, with some input by VisitScotland.
  • The dog owner must be happy to be involved in PR opportunities for VisitScotland campaign throughout 2016. This could include travel outwith Scotland. Examples of PR opportunities including being interviewed by a writer for a magazine, or appearing on live TV for an interview. Travel expenses will be covered for these kind of opportunities

About VisitScotland

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit www.gov.scot or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to www.conventionscotland.co

  • Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design begins on 1 January 2016 and ends on 31 December 2016 and will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Scottish Government, Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016
  • Events can join the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design Partner Programme throughout the year by visiting http://www.eventscotland.org/YIAD_partner_programme

ERDF.