Brandon Toledo, age 11, from Brunswick House Primary School in Kent has been awarded the top prize in a national competition which invited children in Key Stages 1 and 2 to design the ultimate dream house for dogs. Brandon’s inspiring design beat over 1,750 entries to claim the top prize of having his design realised by British Woodworking Federation woodworker Hannah Mansell.

Brandon’s ‘Mission X Dog House’ impressed a panel of judges, which included Cbeebies presenter and vet Dr Jess French, thanks to its sophisticated design and clear consideration for a pet’s needs, including space to eat, drink and relax. The creative side of the design also caught the attention of the judges thanks to a miniature balcony, storage space for toys and wheels to travel round on.

The competition was run alongside Blue Cross’s partnership with the first ever public exhibition and auction of artistic dog kennels in Britain, BowWow Haus London, and challenged schoolchildren to let their imaginations run wild to design their own fantastical playhouse and in turn learn the importance of compassion and responsible pet ownership.

Brandon’s winning design has been given a new home at the Blue Cross Suffolk Rehoming Centre for dogs to enjoy while they wait to find their forever home.

Dr Jess French said, ‘By creating these doggy playhouse designs, children as young as five have been learning what dogs need to keep them happy, healthy and safe. It’s never too early to start helping pet owners of the future to understand how best to look after their beloved furry friends, so as a vet, mother and dog owner, I’m delighted that Blue Cross has been raising awareness through this unique competition. I think it’s brilliant.

‘Having looked through the many amazing entries, Brandon’s Mission X stood out because it shows incredible creative ingenuity, especially from someone of such a young age. I particularly like that it has wheels so your dog can travel in comfort and style, and the miniature balcony is perfect for a puzzled Pomeranian to ponder the world from. A very worthy winner!’

Kerry Taylor, Education Manager at Blue Cross added, ‘We are so grateful for every school, teacher and student who took the time to enter this competition. We hope everyone found it an enjoyable experience and recognises that by taking part, you have helped us in our mission to ensure as many people as possible recognise the important welfare needs of pets across the country.’

The following students were also shortlisted by the judges for their incredible creativity and consideration for a pet’s needs:

5-7 Year Olds
• Jessica, Rushton CE Primary School
• Luke, Perry Court E-ACT Academy
• Ronnie, Perry Court E-ACT Academy
• Luciana, Deepdene School

8-9 Year Olds
• Lucia, Deepdene School
• Holly, Perry Court E-ACT Academy
• Katherine, Brunswick House Primary School
• Amarachi, St Joseph’s Catherine Primary School

10-11 Year Olds
• Skye, Cokethorpe School
• Eloise, Brunswick House Primary School
• Leo, Brunswick House Primary School