DogLost’s first celebrity supporter dies

DogLost’s very first celebrity supporter crossed rainbow bridge on Monday. CH Soletrader Peek a Boo, known as Jilly, was Crufts Best in Show in 2013.

I watched her win the Hound Group at Crufts after a hard day promoting DogLost, but it was the final when she made history as the first Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen ever to receive the accolade.

Jilly and Gavin as they realise she’s Best in Show

A PBGV of boundless energy, fun and charm, she then undertook a 130 mile sponsored walk called Jilly’s Jolly Jaunt to raise funds for DogLost and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Starting at the NEC where she was crowned, the walk took the route of the Grand Union Canal to London. Joined by DogLost co-ordinators along the route, Jilly and her owner, Gavin Robertson, also highlighted the rare and vulnerable breeds that joined each leg.

Nearly £50,000 was raised, with a third of it going to DogLost and the rest to GOSH. As DogLost’s PR at the time, it was a privilege to handle the Jaunt as she was my breed and I was a huge fan. Jilly was welcomed by mayors in each of the districts and by Crufts host Clare Balding as the walk neared London.

Jilly retired afterwards and gave birth to two puppies later that year. Luke came to live with me and is every inch his mother’s son.

She became a frequent guest on TV and was always welcomed back to the sofa at Crufts. But aside from being such a remarkable show dog, she was always a much-loved family pet.

The Peek a Boo Trust was set up in her name, with the annual Pawscars awards and dinner, and other dog related events. To date the trust has raised more than £100,000 for children’s and animal charities.

Said Gavin: “We had the biggest and best journey anyone could ever wish to have and she gave me the best memories any dog lover could dream of. Her character was infectious which she passed on to her wonderful offspring, and her love of owning the house made every visitor smile.

“But Jilly was my mate and can never be replaced, she loved me and I loved her through all of her life. I have cried so much joy over the years and have cried so much pain over the last few days. I know she has left a legacy in many ways, but I would give it all back if I could have her here with me now.”

Jilly. CH Soletrader Peek a Boo. 29 October 2009 – 7 February 2021.

Nik Oakley

(Main photo shows Jilly & Gavin visiting the DogLost stand at Crufts)

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