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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The tiny dog with the BIG clothes habit: With her £20,000 designer wardrobe, is Bella the Bichon Frise Britain's most pampered pet?

•Custom-built wardrobe houses £500 dress, £735 Gucci carrier, £375 Louis Vuitton collar and lead, and pink life-jacket...but she's never been swimming
•Bella, three, from Staffordshire, has regular manicures and her own perfume

By Martha De Lacey

We've all been guilty of the occasional spot of pet-pampering: a catnip mouse here and a squeaky bone there.

But one teenager from Penkridge, Staffordshire, has taken doggy decadence to a whole new level, splashing out £1000 on birthday presents and a party when her beloved Bichon Frise Bella turned three.

And that's just a drop in the ocean when you consider Bella already has a collection of clothes worth £20,000.

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The manicured mutt: Bella the Bichon Frise, three, relaxes at home in her Juicy Couture hoodie and matching pink nails

Office worker Laura Benion, 17, says she regularly spends £100 of her £175 weekly wages on her pampered pet, including trips to the grooming parlour where Bella, three, has her claws painted with canine-friendly nail polish.

Speaking to MailOnline, Miss Benion revealed that Bella's favourite outfit is her purple Juicy Couture hoodie, which she likes to wear around the house, and that she only wears her dresses - including a handmade one costing £500 - when she goes out.

Bella even shares a huge, custom-built double wardrobe with Miss Benion, who admits she has spent over £15,000 of her own money on treats for her treasured dog, £20,000 when she includes gifts the pair has been given.

Some of Bella's priciest items include a £735 Gucci dog carrier, a £375 Louis Vuitton collar and lead, a £110 cashmere jumper, an £80 bottle of dog-friendly perfume and two Paul Smith dog bowls costing £50 each.

Britain's most pampered pet: Three-year-old Bella has a wardrobe to rival her owner Laura's own

Miss Benion says Bella's best-loved clothes label is Louisdog, a company who make 'pretty little human-style clothes that you would never expect to see on dogs', costing around £50 per piece.

She said: 'It all started because Bella is very small and feels the cold quite badly, but when I put her in doggy jumpers I realised they were all really bad quality.

'So I bought her a few nice pieces and it has now become a bit of an addiction. She absolutely has more clothes than me!'

Chewy Vuitton: Bella has a £20,000 wardrobe but tends to wear relaxed jumpers around the house and save party dresses for special occasions

Bella, who turned three on July 7, was treated to £800 of gifts, including a £180 handbag and a pink life-jacket, even thought she has never been swimming.

Miss Benion said: 'I also threw her a party with four dogs and 20 people, but it wasn't a massive one - it only cost about £200.

'We played games and had a human cake but with no chocolate in it so that the dogs could eat it, because dogs are allergic to chocolate.'

In the dog house: Laura Benion, 17, admits that furnishing her little dog Bella's very big wardrobe has become a bit of an addiction

Miss Benion, who lives at home with her parents, leaves Bella at home with her mother while she goes to work at her father's company.

She said: 'I have taken her in to work a couple of times but mostly she stays with my mum. Eventually I'd like to have my own dog clothing company and I'm learning to sew so I can make clothes myself.

'I know the money I have spent on Bella's clothes is pretty extortionate, and I definitely spend more on her than I do on myself.

'Her £500 handmade dress was the most extravagant thing I've ever bought for her, but she also has little teddy bears which she loves that aren't so expensive. And her Chewy Vuitton toy bone.

'Next I'd like to get her a Gucci collar.'

It's a dog's life: Laura Benion originally began buying clothes for Bella because the small Bichon Frise tends to feel the cold tremendously

Dog-lover Miss Benion says she would never make Bella wear anything she was uncomfortable in, saying: 'I know she likes being dressed up because whenever I open her wardrobe she gets really excited and wags her tail.

'Some people say dogs don't like being carried around in bags which is why I put the video of her getting into one of hers on YouTube - to show people that she really likes being in it.

'It's not her most expensive bag, though, it was just £50. She has some bags which cost £150."

When Miss Benion is not busy shopping for Bella or dressing her up, the teenager donates her time and money to her local dog's home, the Birmingham Dogs Home.

Casualwear: Laura Benion says Bella loves wearing her clothes as she gets excited and wags her tail whenever her £20,000 wardrobe is opened

Santa's little helper: Bella enjoys getting dressed up for special occasions, including at Christmas and at her £200 birthday party in July

All dressed up: Bella loves designer clothes but is partial to a bit of fancy dress, too

Watch Bella getting into her bag, ready to hit the town:



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