A nationwide search has begun to find the UK’s top hero dogs for the Kennel Club’s Friends for Life competition, which celebrates dogs that have had an extraordinary impact on people’s lives.
The public are being asked to nominate a dog that has changed the life of its owner, or another person, and deserves recognition for it, and the winner will be announced at the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts, at the NEC in Birmingham on Sunday 11th March.
From dogs that have helped their owners through physical or mental illness, supported children with autism and acted as daily support to people with disabilities, to dogs that sniff out life-threatening health conditions or support police and military services in protecting the public, the Friends for Life competition celebrates dogs that make an outstanding contribution to society and change, or even save, lives.
New to this year’s competition is the ‘breed rescue dog of the year’ category, which celebrates dogs that have had an impact on a person’s life after being rehomed by a Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisation, service or individual.
The public are being asked to nominate dogs in the following categories:
- Extraordinary life of a working dog – for those who have shown extraordinary qualities working in the army, police force, RAF, airport, search and rescue etc.
- Hero assistance dogs – celebrating all assistance dogs, from guide dogs and hearing dogs to medical detection dogs and autism assistance dogs.
- Man’s best friend – celebrating a pet dog who has seen its owner through the hardest times as well as the happiest.
- Child’s hero – recognising dogs that support and impact children to help them achieve the best start in their life.
- Breed rescue dog of the year – for a dog who has improved its owner’s life after being rehomed through a Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisation or service.
Anyone wishing to nominate a dog for an award can do so via the Crufts website (www.crufts.org.uk/friendsforlife) until midnight on 21st January. Towards the end of February five finalists will be announced by the Kennel Club and the public will be able to vote for the dog they want to win. The winner of the Friends for Life competition will be revealed at Crufts 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham on Sunday 11th March, just before Best in Show.
Previous winners of the competition include 2017 winner, Bowser the Bull Terrier, who saved the life of his owner Sally Deegan after a health problem led to her falling unconscious; Boo the Lurcher, who is credited with transforming the life of owner Rosie Reid following complications in pregnancy that left her unable to have children and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; Miracle, a rescue dog who was saved from the cruel dog meat trade in Thailand who changed the life of his young owner Kyle who has cerebral palsy; and Haatchi, an Anatolian Shepherd who had his leg and tail amputated after being deliberately tied to a railway line and struck by a train, only to be rescued and rehomed with seven year-old Owen Howkins, who has a rare genetic condition which causes his muscles to be permanently tense, and his family.
Caroline Kisko, Secretary of the Kennel Club, the UK’s largest organisation dedicated to dog health and welfare, which runs the awards, said: “Dogs play a significant role in our lives. Every day there are dogs out there saving lives in war zones, giving confidence and independence to those with disabilities, and showing remarkable bravery and loyalty as pets.
“Friends for Life is an opportunity to celebrate these dogs, who quietly go about changing people’s lives in their own unique and special way. We are looking forward to hearing from anybody who has a heart-warming tale about how their dog has changed their life for the better or how a friend has had their life transformed by their dog.
“We have introduced a new category this year, the ‘breed rescue dog of the year’ category, which celebrates dogs that have had an impact on a person’s life after being rehomed by a Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisation. We would encourage breed clubs that run rescue and welfare services to have a think about any dogs they know of that fit this description and consider nominating them.
“As a fitting tribute, the winner will take centre stage at the Genting Arena during Crufts 2018, an event which is dedicated to celebrating the diverse role that dogs play in society and the way that they enrich our lives.
“We encourage anybody whose dog has earned the title of ‘Friends for Life’ to put them forward for recognition in this competition.”
For further information and to nominate a dog, visit www.crufts.org.uk/friendsforlife.