Blackpool hails BGT winner and stunt dog

Marlyn Harwood, left, with Britain's Got Talent winners Jules O'Dwyer, and Chase and Matisse the dogs
Marlyn Harwood, left, with Britain's Got Talent winners Jules O'Dwyer, and Chase and Matisse the dogs

Friends of Blackpool’s Britain’s Got Talent winner Jules O’Dwyer have today hailed her hard won success.

Julie first learned about dog training at Tower Dog Club and then went on to compete with the Fylde K9 Dancers before she moved away from the area.

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell

The 49-year-old was crowned champion of the ITV talent show – winning £250,000 and a slot in this year’s Royal Variety Performance – with her canine companion Matisse on Sunday night.

But the border collie was yesterday outed as a scaredy-dog, as Jules revealed that it was in fact Chase who completed the daredevil stunt of walking an eight foot-high tightrope in the final.

Chase had already appeared with Jules and Matisse in last Tuesday’s semi-final routine and Jules praised his calm nature.

On yesterday’s ITV Lorraine show Jules explained that, as Matisse is not keen on heights, Chase was drafted in as the stunt dog.

Every dog has a different character

Their winning sketch featured Jules dressed as a policewoman going after Matisse, who had stolen sausages from a butcher. It tugged on the heart-strings as Matisse ‘confessed’ his crime was in aid of another dog, three-legged friend Skippy.

Jules said: “Matisse is a little bit afraid of heights so, although he could physically do it, Chase is the dog who says ‘I’m the action dog’.

“He plays the double for him,” she said. “Every dog has a different character.”

She thanked the BGT team for their help in allowing the dogs to shine in their final appearance.

And friends back home in Blackpool praised Jules, or Julie as they all know her, Matisse, Chase and Skippy.

Founder of Fylde K9 Dancers Barbara Whittaker, whose own dog is the brother of Chase, said Matisse was a ‘fizzy’ dog – explaining his fear of heights.

“Fizzy dogs are harder to train, you have to be so patient and give them so much time,” she said. “Whereas Chase is a fantastic dog, so level headed and laid back. Fizzy dogs will do jumps and actions but you need a sensible dog for the other stunts.”

Barbara and Marlyn Harwood, of the Tower Dog Training Club, have both known Julie since she was a teenager, working with dog Penny.

“Penny was just a street dog, turned into magic and that was when Julie was just 16,” Barbara said. “She used to do all sorts of tricks – Julie used her fingers as a gun and ‘shot’ Penny and she would drop down ‘dead’.”

“I saw her win Crufts with the dog catcher routine they did in the audition,” Marlyn said. “They came here for rehearsals before the audition in Manchester and we’re exceptionally proud.”

Jules grew up in Marton and attended St George’s High School. She’s been living in Belgium for the past 20 years, working as a dog trainer with guide dogs for the blind and assistance dogs for the disabled.