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The Dog Down Under 2024 Winners Revealed

Australia's most Heroic, Talented, Sporting, Hard Working and Oldest Dogs revealed

The search for Australia’s most pawsome pooches in the inaugural The Dog Down Under campaign has ended, revealing the incredible tales of bravery, resilience, dedication and tail-wagging love that Australians right across the country share with their dogs.

Hosted by Lara Shannon, Author of World of Dogs and Eat, Play, Love (your dog) and Host of Channel 10’s Pooches at Play and 7TWO’s Animal SOS Australia, the initiative began with a national Call for Entries, followed by six weeks of interviewing and filming entrants to sniff out the final Top 10* for each category.

Finalists for the Most TalentedEveryday HeroesHardest Working, Sporting Legends and Oldest Dogs categories have been revealed on social media, with the Overall Winners announced this week.

Shannon said, “After reading all 550 plus entries, I was blown away by how many of our canine companions are literally saving lives, protecting the community and bringing together people from all walks of life through a common bond and love of dogs. Meeting many of them along the East Coast of Australia, and with more states to come, it is very clear that for many Australians our dogs are more than just pets.

They are important members of the family, providing protection, inspiration and companionship, helping people to keep going when times get tough.

“The judges and I could never have imagined how hard it would be to select just ten finalists, and will be sharing as many of the stories that we can on social media and other platforms throughout the year, to recognise and celebrate the important role dogs play in our lives and the wider community.”

The stories of the Top 10 Finalists for the Most Talented, Hardest Working, Everyday Heroes and Sporting Legends categories, as well as Australia’s Oldest dogs of all shapes and sizes, will be shared in a five-part TV series ‘The Dog Down Under’, airing on Channel 10 from 7 September 2024.

The Overall Winners include:

MOST TALENTED – Bunny, the soulful pianist and singer (NSW)

Bunny, aka Bunsoo the little Boston terrier, is an incredibly talented pianist and singer. She sings her owners an original composition on the piano every morning and enjoys taking her show on the road to the retirement home where she swaps her instrument for a keyboard. 

A video of Bunny’s soulful performance went viral last year, with nearly 7 million views! Bunny is not only a very talented and sweet girl, she’s as cute as a button too. TikTok account: @bunsoobaby.

EVERYDAY HERO – Ninna, the life saver (QLD)

Ninna is a 14-year-old Staffy that plays many roles. She’s a nursing home and mental health ward therapy dog and personal Assistance Dog to her guardian, Alyssa, who writes, “Ninna helps me navigate the world, being my eyes and trusted partner.

Ninna tells me when my chemicals are changing, due to Septo-optic dysplasia, which caused my blindness. She also saved my life during a traumatic road accident which saw myself and two others trapped in a car that had rolled over the side of the Killarney Range, Qld, 10 years ago, by licking us constantly to keep us conscious and connected. She also helped me to become the first blind person to pursue a dog training career in Australia”.

HARDEST WORKING – Kaos, Qld Police Dog Hero (QLD)

Kaos became an operational police Dog in 2014. Turning 12 in October, Kaos has since retired. Living at home with his handler James and family, Kaos continues to help raise awareness about the important role Police Dogs play in keeping the community safe.

Kaos was based in Brisbane, but deployed across Queensland regional areas, and was successfully located and apprehended hundreds of offenders.

In February 2020, PD Kaos was stabbed in the throat while apprehending two serious offenders in North Brisbane, receiving a 12cm deep laceration into his throat, cutting his larynx and oesophagus and missing his carotid artery by millimetres. What makes this story even more incredible is that after sustaining this injury when apprehending the first offender, he was redeployed, apprehending the second offender whilst seriously injured.

Kaos required multiple surgeries, but after a few months’ recovery, was able to return to full operational duties. Prior to his injury, police dogs and horses were only protected under the Qld Animal Welfare Act. A new law has since been passed to provide additional penalties for police dogs and horses, ensuring Kaos’ legacy lives on.

SPORTING LEGEND – Roxy, the extraordinary dog sledder (SA)

Hurtling down rugged and windy trails at 25-30km/h with sledding teams all around her, the pressure to perform goes beyond just winning for Siberian Husky, Roxy. She HAS lot more at stake. Her sled-racing partner and guardian, Lilyana, is legally blind.

In 2022, after spending three weeks on her deathbed in hospital and being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Lilyana decided that life was too short to not pursue her passion for dog sledding.

“The level of trust Roxy and I have for one another to keep each other safe is beyond words. It is an incredibly difficult sport to compete in with limited eyesight, but if Roxy thinks I've called the wrong turn, she will slow down to give me time to look around, as she knows which way other teams have gone. It's the little things like this that really solidify my trust in her. Roxy is a very sensitive, well-behaved dog with a heart of gold. I might look after her, but she looks after me more. If it wasn't for our loving bond, I wouldn't be able to do the sport we have both come to love so much!

OLDEST DOG – Phil the 19.5 year old ‘pirate’ (QLD)

Phil's tale is a Cinderella story with a fairy tale ending. At 13 years of age, Phil found himself at the RSPCA in Perth, after experiencing a neglectful home and then navigating some health issues. 

He spent 6 months at the shelter, wondering if his forever home would ever come along and give him a second chance at life. Meanwhile in Brisbane, two Veterinarians, Mina & Anthony, received a call about Phil, as they were looking to adopt a well-mannered senior dog, and would have no trouble managing him medically - so the match was perfect!

Phil fast became a loved member of the family and shares his home with three children, two cats and another older doggo, Elizabeth. At age 15, Phil sadly developed a very rare form of
dry eye in both eyes resulting in left eye being surgically removed. 

Phil enjoys the simple things - cuddles with the family, stealing every toy in the house for himself, day naps, and going for long walks so he can read and reply to his 'pee mail'. Phil is due to celebrate his 20th birthday this August and is still in excellent health.

The Dog Down Under 2024 campaign is supported by Major Partner, Petstock, and Category Sponsors, Antinol® PLUS (Sporting Legends), Big Dog Pet Foods (Oldest), Credelio™ PLUS (Everyday Heroes), Buddy & Belle (Hardest Working) and VitaPet (Most Talented).

Finalists and Winners can be viewed on Instagram @thedogdownunderoz and Facebook.

* One finalist selected for each of the Oldest Dog size categories: Miniature/Toy/Small, Medium, Large & Giant Breed - with the oldest dog across all categories earning the Overall Winner’s title.


FINALIST Most Talented – ‘Cinnamon’ (ACT) – special talent is playing Connect 4

FINALIST Everyday Heroes – Lachie (ACT) - Chaplaincy Support Dog for the ACT Emergency Services Agency

FINALIST Sporting Legend – Luna (TAS) – champion sports dog, accredited Animal Assisted Therapy Dog and first dog to be working officially in the Tasmanian Health Service.

FINALIST Sporting Legend – Harli (WA) – 8kg dog with a big heart, beating the big dogs in WA Agility Dog of the Year (2022 & 2023) and Winner of Agility Nationals 2023.

MEDIA RELEASE, 13th June 2024

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