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THE REX FACTOR -- Cowell loves our mel's guitar-playing dog

AN IRISH busker was upstaged on Britain's Got Talent -- by her guitar-playing dog.

X Factor judge Simon Cowell was spellbound by collie-labrador Laika who attended show auditions with her owner, Wicklow woman Melissa Serpico.

Hard-hitting Cowell, renowned for his honest and sweeping criticisms, spotted the cuddly new act on stage with London-based Melissa and asked to see the pooch 'play'.

Singer Melissa (38), who spent her childhood in Bray and Greystones and adopted Laika from the Wicklow Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals three years ago, was singing The Beatles' Yesterday when Cowell made the request.


She was cut off from singing in front of a 4,000-strong audience and line of judges at the Hammersmith Apollo, when everyone demanded to hear her dog -- which can strum her guitar strings as Melissa holds the instrument.

She said: "I started my song but the crowd started chanting 'Off! Off! Off!' Simon said 'show us your guitar-playing dog'. The crowd weren't impressed with Laika, but Simon said if I wanted I could come back next year."

Melissa and Laika are often seen as a double act in Romford, east London, where Melissa sings in the underpass and Laika strums her guitar.

"She's my baby. In my local town she's really like a celebrity -- I've been busking there for over a year now."


The musical dog has come a long way since she was recovered in the Glen of the Downs area in November 2006 and was cared for at Sharpeshill animal sanctuary, until Melissa's family adopted her.

It was claimed that Cowell had told his girlfriend Mezhgan Hussainy, who was sitting nearby at the auditions: "I want that dog."

And always the opportunist, Melissa later called Cowell's publicist to see if the TV star wanted to adopt Laika.

Melissa said she wanted an ideal life for her dog, with no expenses spared. However, Cowell has not yet returned her call. She must be barking up the wrong tree.