Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Therapy dog in line for top prize

See Bertie the therapy spaniel at work

He has never won a competition, and his breeder sold him because he did not make the grade, but now Bertie the cocker spaniel is heading for Crufts.

The lovable pooch has been nominated for the prize of top therapy dog by children from Ysgol y Gogarth special school in Llandudno, Conwy.

Owner Mary Oliver said Bertie was the only Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog to reach the finals from Wales.

The school said Bertie's visit is the highlight of the week for many pupils.

"It's brilliant, it is so exciting and I'm proud and delighted," said Ms Oliver.

Bertie's career as a PAT dog began because he is "such a nice dog, very calm", said Ms Oliver.

Top dog

His going to Crufts, with the six finalists from all over the UK, is the icing on the cake, she added.

"I got him at 14 months old because his brother and sister had made the grade, but he hadn't.

"Now he's going to Crufts anyway, and even if he's a runner up he wins £100, and some dog food, and I'll donate the money to the school," she added.

Senior classroom assistant Gwenda Westly, from Ysgol y Gogarth, said Bertie made a huge difference to the pupils who meet him.

"Children like you see here don't have the same experiences and maybe some of them don't have animals at home," she said.

"You can see from their faces, they are laughing, and they get to hold something that is alive."

Bertie visiting the school is "amazing", she added.

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