Hamish the terrier top dog at Commonwealth Games

Barry and Aaron Chisholm  leading the team out with Hamish at Celtic Park. Picture: PA

Barry and Aaron Chisholm leading the team out with Hamish at Celtic Park. Picture: PA

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HE was the breakout star of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony – and now he’s told how he seized his chance to steal the show (well, to be fair, his owners did the talking).

Hamish the terrier led out Team Scotland during Wednesday’s extravaganza at Celtic Park to thunderous cheers, accompanied by owners Barry and Aaron Chisholm, from Dunbar.

The father and son were given the honour of leading the home athletes as they paraded in front of 40,000 spectators and an estimated global TV audience of one billion.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” said dad Barry, 40. “It was almost like a dream come true to lead your national team out in front of such a large crowd. It was absolutely phenomenal.”

Hamish and family were only cast in the Glasgow 2014 opener after a chance meeting with a dog groomer whose friend was one of the consultants working on the show.

Mr Chisholm said: “I went to my usual groomer that we take Hamish to, but they couldn’t squeeze us in because they were too busy. So we went to one in Edinburgh, and I got talking to a woman there who said her friend was looking for Scottie dogs for the Commonwealth Games.”

He was sceptical that anything would come of it, but was soon called by organisers desperate to sign up Scotties.

“It just went ballistic after that,” said Mr Chisholm. “It’s been great being involved.”

They were the only father-son team to take part in the parade, after Barry originally asked if 11-year-old Aaron could walk Hamish around the stadium. “I feed and walk him, but he’s really my son’s dog,” he said.

Officials initially insisted Aaron was too young to take part, but eventually relented, making the opening ceremony a family affair for the Chisholms and their pooch.

Hamish and his 40 fellow Scotties, who each led out a national team while wearing coats emblazoned with their country’s name, became a global sensation on the night, and the Chisholms’ seven-year-old terrier now has his own Twitter account to soak up the acclaim.

Since his star turn, Hamish has been lapping up his new-found celebrity on the streets of Glasgow, posing for doggie selfies with adoring fans in his Team Scotland coat.

Mr Chisholm said: “He’s handled it very well. He spent yesterday walking around Glasgow, and he’s been recognised by taxi drivers shouting ‘Hamish!’ out the window.

“He was on the television yesterday morning – it’s been crazy but a great experience.

“Everybody seems to have gone crazy for the dogs. It’s just been a massive phenomenon that has swept the nation. Everybody has wanted to see him and take their photo with him.”

His owners haven’t missed the chance to get a few celebrity snaps of their own, being photographed alongside Scotland judoka and flag bearer Euan Burton, performer John Barrowman and even Sir Chris Hoy.

Edinburgh dog trainer Lynn Aitchison, who was recruited as a consultant by event organisers Jack Morton, acted as headhunter and troubleshooter ahead of the parade.

Known to her friends as “Lynn the dog lady”, the Kennel Club-accredited dog instructor spilled the kibble on the doggy prima donnas.

“These dogs have been pampered,” she said. “There was a marquee specially put up for them just beside the stadium. There was benching put up like they use at dog shows, and there were crates provided so all the dogs had their own little den and could have a rest.

“There were fans in the marquee because it was warm.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com