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Holloway pooch wins top modelling contract

PUBLISHED: 11:34 16 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:34 16 April 2013

Flora the Akita, Britain's Next Dog Model 2013, puts her best paw forward

Flora the Akita, Britain's Next Dog Model 2013, puts her best paw forward

Archant

Every girl likes to look good – and Flora, a lusciously-locked 15-month-old Akita, is no different.

Robert Stuhldreer with his Akita dog FloraRobert Stuhldreer with his Akita dog Flora

Except that for Flora, the hours of shampooing, blow-drying and brushing have netted her a much-sought-after modelling contract.

The prize pooch has just been named Britain’s Next Dog Model by pet grooming company Mikki – beating off competition from 400 other canines to be the face of the brand for the next year.

Owner Robert Stuhldreer – who takes Flora out for three hours of exercise every day, buys her only the best dog food, and painstakingly baths, showers, and blow dries her before every show – believes the award is no more than she deserves.

Mr Stuhldreer, 52, a musician of Dunford Road, Holloway, who has featured Flora in shows and on television programmes such as ITV’s Top Dog Model, said: “She is an extremely handsome dog, she is from possibly the UK’s top breeder and her temperament is absolutely wonderful.”

Robert Stuhldreer with his Akita dog FloraRobert Stuhldreer with his Akita dog Flora

But like all the best models, Flora is not just a pretty face.

Flora is also an education dog for the animal charity Blue Cross, going into schools, visiting youth clubs and working with excluded children at pupil referral units in order to teach youngsters how to behave responsibly with dogs.

This work is all too important as youths who would once have used Staffordshire bull terriers as tough-looking status symbols are increasingly turning to Akita-husky crosses, says Mr Stuhldreer.

Akitas, which hail from Japan, look like a more muscular version of the German shepherd and were once used to hunt bears.

Mr Stuhldreer, who has had Akitas since 1999, said: “They are a dominant breed and so are not a dog for a first-time owner. You need to be at the top of your game and to show them who is boss.

“They respond to firm treatment. They are extremely good with the immediate family and they are very loyal.

“But if friends came over with children, most Akitas would just walk away because they can’t be bothered with the noise and chaos.

“Sadly Akitas can be used as status dogs. People who would have used Staffordshire bull terriers in the past are moving to Akita-husky crosses because they are big dogs and look tough. In the wrong hands, they can be very intimidating.

“I feel proud that Flora is giving an alternative view of a large powerful dog. Sadly, you only see dogs in negative situations so it’s good to see her giving a positive impression of dogs.”


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