Plus-ones at award ceremonies don’t get any cuter than this.
James Middleton, the younger brother of the Duchess of Cambridge (formerly known as Kate Middleton), attended the GQ Men of the Year Awards in London on Tuesday and brought an excellent date: his cocker spaniel Ella, a very good girl who’s also a trained therapy dog.
“I think I should win the award for the best date for the GQ men of the year awards 🐾 🏆,” he captioned a few photos of the pair on Instagram.
Middleton looked dapper in a burgundy velvet jacket and a bow tie, while Ella rocked a tartan skirt-vest with “Pets as Therapy” written on it. Middleton is an ambassador for Pets As Therapy, a U.K. charity providing therapeutic pet visits to care homes, hospitals and schools.
Ella became a therapy dog last year, according to Middleton’s Instagram.
“Animals can provide a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and toward one that provides pleasure,” he posted in December 2018. “I am a huge believer in this and Ella has done so much for me.”
Though famously private (we don’t know much about him, other than the fact that he owns some sort of marshmallow company), Middleton has spoken candidly about his mental health recently. He’s also talked about how his five pups, Ella, Zulu, Inka, Luna and Mabel, have helped him cope with depression.
“Fundamentally inside me I know how much the dogs helped me. I find it easier talking to the dogs than I sometimes do to humans,” he told The Standard last month, noting that Ella accompanied him to his therapy sessions.
According to the Mayo Clinic, animal-assisted therapy can reduce pain and anxiety in people facing a range of health challenges, from cancer patients to veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. You might see a therapy pet cheering up people in nursing homes or children’s hospitals or, these days, supplying comfort to a community after a mass shooting.
Therapy pets work hard, but judging from Ella’s example, they play hard, too. Like any proud dog dad, Middleton’s Instagram is full of pics of him and his pets enjoying their downtime. Sometimes, they’re swimming:
Sometimes, they’re sailing:
And sometimes, they’re just looking dashing as heck for a fashion mag editorial: