Meet Malu, Australia’s top dog
Malu the apricot moodle is a dog of unique breeding with beady eyes, scruffy coat and short stubby legs - what's not to love?
Judges at this year's Dogs of Oz competition agreed, and awarded the lucky champ and owner Tennille Bainbridge with a luxurious hotel stay at Ovolo Darling Harbour and makeover with Pooch Perfect groomer Shayla Knipe, as well as a $5000 Petbarn and $2500 Qantas voucher.
But the eight-month-old moodle (half Maltese, half poodle) is hardly content to rest on his looks. He is a hardworking dog as well.
His lengthy resume includes being a dog ambassador for a local dog clothing business and an avid social media influencer, as well as training to understand the Aboriginal language.
"I'm studying a Masters Degree in Aboriginal Languages and I've taught all of Malu's basic commands in Gunggari," Tennille says.
"Malu has certainly enjoyed his unique training, and (not surprisingly) his favourite word is 'wada,' meaning walkies.
"One of the loveliest things about having Malu in our lives is seeing the happiness he brings to other people, especially at a time when the world can certainly use a smile."
Tennille's search for the ideal furry companion included a lot of research.
"We already had two mature-aged ragdoll cats, so we needed to select a breed that would get along with our existing fur kids," she says.
"A moodle ticked all the right boxes in terms of temperament and intelligence and having few health problems as a breed.
"While our original preference was for a little girl moodle puppy, we fell in love with Malu from the moment we saw his photo on the 'Fluffy Puppies' website. He arrived with us in late January and we have been head over heels in puppy love ever since."
Dogs - big or small - melt hearts with their cute antics, devoted attention and uncomplicated love. They ask little of us, just love, a warm bed and good food and in return we receive years of pleasure, companionship and loyalty.
They're our pets, part of our families, and one of the most enriching experiences we can have in our lives.
The Dogs of Oz competition (run by News Corp in partnership with Petbarn) not only celebrates adorable dogs, but also seeks to raise awareness about dog rescues and adoption shelters.
If you're thinking about extending your family with a four-legged friend, founder and CEO of SavourLife Michael McTeigue says adopting a dog is a great way to get the breed you want without breaking the bank.
"Almost two-thirds of the dogs coming into our Adopt-A-Dog platform are less than 12 months old, which means there are thousands waiting to be adopted right now," he says.
"There are numerous scientific studies proving that owning a dog makes you healthier - and not just physical health, but improved mental health as well.
"From decreased blood pressure, to an improvement in stress levels and increased chances for social interaction. The health benefits for you and your family are huge."
Originally published as Meet Malu, Australia's top dog