They don’t call dogs ‘man’s (or woman’s) best friends’ for nothing, and we really felt for Ashleigh Butler when she announced yesterday that she’d had to put down her faithful pooch – and fellow Britain’s Got Talent winner – Pudsey after he was diagnosed with leukaemia.
The 22-year-old from Northampton paid tribute to the Border Collie cross by posting cute pictures of him on Instagram.
She also revealed that it was “the hardest decision of my life to let my beautiful boy go”.
But we can now reveal that Ashleigh plans to emulate the success she enjoyed with her beloved pup by teaming up with her OTHER dog – a Pudsey lookalike who she’s even planning to rename Pudsey!
Sully, another Border Collie cross, is no slouch himself when it comes to doing tricks – he’s a world agility champion who’s even won a round at Crufts.
But he’ll need to swot up on his acting skills, too, as he’ll be masquerading as his canine chum to meet the BGT duo’s existing commitments.
Said Professor Jonathan Shalit, whose company Roar represents the act: “[Pudsey] was a remarkable dog. The combination of Ashleigh and Pudsey was magical.
“Once Ashleigh’s heartache has eased, she looks forward to continuing with her career.
‘However, we’re pleased to say that, like Lassie and James Bond, Sully will now emulate Pudsey to entertain and bring joy to as many families as Pudsey was able to do.”
Among the new partnership’s commitments is a starring role in the Christmas pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk at the Swan Theatre, High Wycombe.
Ashleigh and Pudsey won ITV talent show Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 – the first dog-based act to achieve the feat.
Judge Simon Cowell described Pudsey as “one of the best dancing dogs I’ve ever seen”.
The pair even got to meet the Queen following their appearance at the Royal Variety Performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Another of the BGT judges, David Walliams, led the tributes to Pudsey, tweeting: “Farewell to a very special dog that the nation fell in love with.”
And dancer George Sampson, who himself won the show in 2008, tweeted a picture of himself with the pooch, alongside the words: “RIP my little mate, you were and will always be a superstar.”
It looks like Sully has a big act to follow.