A DOG once kept locked in a cage until she almost died has recovered to become a show-stopping star – snapping up 80 rosettes and being named ‘best in show’ four times.

Millie, a German shepherd, could hardly stand and weighed half what she should when she was rescued by a vet.

But after being welcomed into a loving new home by Headington surveyor Kim Gilder and her partner Andy Webb, the two-year-old has enjoyed an extraordinary turnaround in fortune.

Millie was left in a cage for the first seven months of her life. Her health deteriorated so much that her previous owners took her to be put down. The vet handed her to a rescue centre instead.

Mrs Gilder, 51, saw an ad for Millie online and drove to Wales with Mr Webb to pick her up.

When she arrived at her new home Millie weighed just 12kg, and had developed kennel cough, a respiratory infection that needed five weeks of intensive care to recover from.

Mrs Gilder said: “She was very quiet. She was covered in soil because she had been in a cage. All her fur was matted. It had to be shaved off underneath her.”

That was in February 2014. It took four months to get Millie to walk properly and reach a healthy weight. While caring for Millie, Mrs Gilder found help and support at Four Paws Cat Rescue, a charity based in Headington.

There she was told that entering Millie in dog shows could help her become more social by meeting other pets and people.

Rescue centre founder Julie Jones said: “We welcomed Millie in because she is a rescue dog. To me, it doesn’t matter if they’re cats or dogs. They’re all rescued.

“Millie comes in and we always give her a treat. She’s got her special treat box in the back. She’s always very, very welcome.”

Following the charity’s advice, Mrs Gilder entered Millie in her first dog show, where she won top prize in her category. In the past year, she entered 15 contests and has won 80 rosettes so far, four of which were for best in show.

Because Millie was not fed properly in the first months of her life, she has a floppy ear, which Mrs Gilder said adds to her charm.

“One, she’s pretty. Two, she’s well behaved. Three, she has got an incredible story. And four, the key thing is, we do it for fun,” she added.

“Millie enjoys it, I enjoy it and it shows. When you take her into the show ring she blossoms. And that comes across.”

Mrs Gilder still goes to Four Paws Cat Rescue to get costumes for Millie’s shows. She donated £1,000 to the charity on Monday to thank them for their support.

Having turned Millie into a healthy, 28-month-old German shepherd, she stressed the importance of knowing what the breed requires to be healthy.

“It’s the right kind of exercise from the start,” she said. “It’s being in control of the dog, because a lot of people get German shepherds for guard dogs and they’re misread.

“Millie is a pet. She is not a guard dog. She is part of the family.”