Every dog has its day and Friends for Life changed mine

How winning the Kennel Club's Crufts Award for Life changed one person's life

Now the search is on again for UK's Top Dog Hero for national award.

A dog owner who suffers mental health illness has said that their life has changed dramatically since taking part and winning the annual Friends for Life award, which searches for hero dogs, at Crufts.

On the 26th November, the nationwide search begins again to find the UK’s top dog hero to be crowned the 2019 winner of the annual Kennel Club Friends for Life competition at Crufts, celebrating a lifetime of friendship and the heart-warming stories of how humans and dogs transform and enrich each other’s lives.

The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation is searching for heart-warming and inspiring stories that showcase just how much dogs do for humans throughout their lives, and is calling for the public to nominate a canine companion that deserves to be recognised for what they do.

The winner of the Kennel Club Friends for Life competition will be revealed at Crufts 2019, in Birmingham on Sunday 10 March, and will win £5,000 for a dog charity of their choice.  Runners up will receive £1,000 for their chosen dog charity.

The public are being asked to nominate dogs in the following categories:

  • Extraordinary Life of a Working Dog – for dogs who have shown extraordinary qualities through working, including in the army, police force, RAF, search and rescue.
  • Giving through Assistance – for assistance dogs that support their owners throughout the years.
  • A Life of Friendship – celebrating man’s best friend throughout the years, a partner that has seen you through the hardest times as well as the happiest.
  • Giving the Best Start in Life – recognising dogs that support and impact the lives of children under 16 years of age.
  • Breed Rescue dog of the year – for the dog who has improved its owner’s life after being rehomed through a Kennel Club Breed Rescue organisation

The nominations are open until 10th December 2018 and five finalists will be chosen to go forward to the final at Crufts 2019, where the overall winner, selected by public vote, will be announced by war hero Ben Parkinson MBE before the grand finale of the Crufts Best in Show award on the 10th March.

Last year’s winner was Sir Jack Spatticus the rescue Border Terrier who together with his owner Vanessa Holbrow helped to raise awareness and breakdown the stigma attached to mental health issues. Jack has continued to give Vanessa the motivation and confidence to speak on local radio and write articles for Rethink, and together they have raised thousands of pounds for mental health charities. Vanessa continues to work hard to get over the importance of raising awareness about complex post traumatic stress disorder, trauma and eating disorders but couldn’t do it without Jack by her side or the confidence that winning Crufts Friends for Life gave her to speak out.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary commented: “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. The Friends for Life competition epitomises what Crufts is about - we care for dogs, and they care for us as well.”

“Friends for Life is an opportunity to celebrate these dogs, which quietly go about changing people’s lives in their own unique and special way. The Kennel Club is 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 changed by their dog.

“As a fitting tribute, the winner will take centre stage at the NEC Arena during Crufts 2019, 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 Friend for Life to put them forward for recognition in this competition.”

Nominations can be made by visiting www.crufts.org.uk/ffl