A DOG trainer has expressed her joy and gratitude after winning an award for her services to animal welfare.

Joe Nutkins works in Ardleigh as a Kennel Club accredited trainer and certified professional canine fitness trainer.

She was nominated for two categories in the Animal Star Awards, including dog trainer and animal hero.

Joe previously made the finalists for dog trainer but was not aware she was nominated for the animal hero award.

She said: “To find out I had been nominated and made the finals in the Dog Trainer category again was absolutely wonderful.

“We don't work with dogs to be nominated for awards but to know that you have done enough to be in someone’s mind away from the Training Venue is so reassuring that we are making a difference for people and their dogs.”

After the official awards virtual event Joe received a message from Animal Star Awards founder, Mary Burgess, informing her she had won the animal hero award.

Joe was out with her mother visiting St Osyth Priory at the time and had to read the message again.

She added: “I was amazed, I had no idea I was even nominated for this category and to win it when there are so many amazing charities and organisations in the same class, is a little sobering to be honest.”

Joe has been sharing her home with Aero, a 15-month-old chocolate Labrador for more than a year now.

She is training Aero to be an assistance dog for the charity Dogs for Autism.

Joe said: “Aero came to live with us end of November 2021 as a cute eight-week-old puppy and I have been working on her general puppy life skills along with her specific skills as an assistance dog.

“Aero visits her Autistic buddy Harry, aged seven, regularly to practice her training, bond with her future family and work on new skills to help Harry and family more too."

The Animal Hero category was judged by Sir Bruce Forsyth’s daughter, Debbie Matthews who is heavily involved in animal welfare.

For more information on Joe's training visit dogtrainingessex-suffolk.co.uk