Brave Collie crowned as Pet Factor champion

Cara McKinnon with her dogs Lizzie and Freddie

Cara McKinnon with her dogs Lizzie and Freddie Buy this photo

First published in News by , Chief Reporter

MEET Lizzie – a dog that has got the Pet Factor.

A few weeks ago, The Gazette launched a competition to find the most talented pet in Basingstoke. – and now we can reveal the winner of our Pet Factor contest is talented six-year-old Collie cross Lizzie.

Her remarkable story began when she was a puppy and she was rescued by the McKinnon family, from Old Basing. Her owner, 16-year-old Cara McKinnon, said: “She was extremely nervous. She used to flatten herself on the floor when someone stood up but she’s come out of her shell now.”

The family knew nothing of her background, other than she had been rescued in Ireland. Lizzie was happy with her new family, but her life took a second turn for the worst when, at four-years-old, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. She underwent a gruelling eight weeks of chemotherapy and steroids, but fought the cancer and eventually got the all-clear.

Cara, a student at Queen Mary’s College, thought the trauma of the illness might prevent Lizzie from wanting to continue to learn tricks, but instead, Cara has gone on to teach her pet some impressive stunts. Lizzie can collect Cara’s mobile phone on command, weave between her legs, stand on two legs and hide underneath her paws – so possibly an appearance on Britain’s Got Talent is in the offing.

Cara said: “Lizzie is only small, but she has springs in her legs and can jump an amazing four foot. She is an amazing dog and a very loyal companion.

“She has come through a lot in her short life but is living every moment she has, and we hope to have many more happy years with this beautiful girl.”

Lizzie has an equally talented companion – six-year-old Freddie – who can also perform a variety of tricks. The West-Highland White Terrier was born with a defect which meant his front leg bones grew at different rates, resulting in his paw rotating to a 90 degrees angle.

Cara and her family were told that unless it was operated on, he would lose the use of his leg and it would need to be amputated. Cara said: “We took the heartbreaking decision to put him through surgery, where his leg was broken in two places and 10 pins fitted, along with an external cage to hold the bones together.

“It took five months for the leg to heal and he wasn’t allowed to walk on it. He then had to undergo six months of hydrotherapy to rebuild the muscle and encourage movement. Despite his ordeal, Freddie stayed positive and recovered.”

Now Cara’s two beloved dogs are both well and happy, and they enjoy impressing people with their stunts. Cara said: “They are loyal, lovely dogs and like best friends to me.”

Her mother Vera added: “Anything Cara asks them to do, they do. It’s taken a long time and patience but she spends ages training them and they love it.”

Cara’s prize was vouchers, donated by Sainsbury’s at Hatch Warren.

Watch the video below of Lizzie performing one of her tricks.


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