WHEN it comes to footballing dogs, these clever canines have the skills to take the lead.
Despite heavy rain, sport-loving pooches at the Dogs Trust rehoming centre, in Sadberge, near Darlington, showed off their ball skills for the cameras on Wednesday.
Although these hounds are looking for new homes, they are among the first names on the teamsheet for The Northern Echo's sporty pets XI.
With the World Cup just two weeks away, now is the time to put your pet's footballing talents to the test.
Will they take a bow-wow and earn a place in our World Pup squad?
The search isn't limited to dogs - whatever the pet, if they have an aptitude for the beautiful game, we want to hear about it.
Can your pet pooch pass like Pele? Perhaps one of our readers has a sheep that can shoot like Shearer, a tarantula that fancies itself as a target man or a goalscoring goldfish.
If all that sounds a bit unlikely, think back to Paul the Octopus, who became a star of the 2010 World Cup by correctly 'predicting' the outcome of some games.
If Paul proved one thing, it is that nothing is too absurd when it comes to animals and football.
With any luck, World Pup hopefuls won't disgrace themselves in the same way as the dog that held up a match in Argentina by running onto the pitch for a toilet break earlier this year.
Rebecca McKeown, from Dogs Trust Darlington, said: "Our dogs are given toys to play with in their kennel, but we find that they most enjoy ‘kicking’ a ball about on our back field, where they can run free and play.
"It is important that our dogs get lots of exercise on a daily basis to ensure that they are kept fit and active.
"Using balls to play with the dog is also a great way to interact with them and form a bond."
Among the dogs showing off their skills at Dogs Trust was one-year-old crossbreed Zena, lurcher Buster, seven, and three-year-old crossbreed Jez.
These three dogs are still looking for a home and enjoyed a kickabout with one-year-old Patterdale terrier Dusty, who was recently placed with a new owner.
Dogs Trust Darlington has dozens of dogs looking for their forever home, including the following football-loving faithful friends:
- Four-year-old terrier (Thierry) Henry, described as a cheeky chap who loves his toys;
- Rottweiler George (Best), two, who would suit people used to the breed;
- One-year-old large crossbreed Theo (Walcott), described as bouncy, lively and eager to please.
- Border collie Al (Shearer), three, who needs a committed and patient adults-only home.
To send us pictures and video of your footballing pets, contact @thenorthernecho on Twitter using #worldpup or email firstname.lastname@example.org