On the 9th September, James Middleton will be launching the nationwide search to find the UK’s top dog hero to be crowned the 2020 winner of the annual Kennel Club Friends for Life competition, celebrating a lifetime of friendship and the heart-warming stories of how humans and dogs transform and enrich each other’s lives.
At Crufts this year, PC Dave Wardell and his dog Finn were announced as the winners of the Kennel Club’s Friends for Life Competition 2019. This was just one stage of their journey, after succeeding in driving a new Bill through parliament to make attacking a service animal a criminal offence and reaching the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent a couple of months after.
Said PC Dave Wardell; “Finn was stabbed several times as he protected me from an armed attack in 2016, saving my life. Finn was badly injured and his fight for his life led us to launch the ‘Finns Law’ campaign, highlighting the value of all service animals and the injustice of their treatment in the law.
“My life has dramatically changed since winning Friends for Life and what we have gone on to achieve, I don’t know where I would be without Finn. He not only saved me from being stabbed, but he has always supported me from a mental health side as well, I owe him my life in so many ways.”
The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, with the help of dog-lover James Middleton, is now searching for more 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, which is supported by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, will be revealed by James at Crufts 2020, in Birmingham on Sunday 8th March, and will win £5,000 for a dog charity of their choice. Runners up will receive £1,000 for their chosen dog charity, with all donations provided by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.
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 support dog - Celebrating all support and assistance dogs, from guide dogs, hearing dogs, medical detection dogs, and autism assistance dogs to support dogs - including therapy dogs or pets who provide emotional support.
- Best friends – Celebrating a pet dog who has seen its owner through the hardest times as well as the happiest.
- Child’s champion – Recognising a dog that has supported and had a positive impact on a child's life (16 years and under).
- Rescue dog hero – for a rescue dog who has overcome adversity and gone on to improve the life of its owner/s.
The nominations are open until 14th October 2019 and five finalists will be chosen to go forward to the final at Crufts 2020, where the overall winner, selected by public vote, will be announced before the grand finale of the Crufts Best in Show award on the 8th March.
A spokesperson for the Kennel Club commented: “The Kennel Club Friends for Life competition will be celebrating 15 years at Crufts 2020. Over this time, the award has been so important in promoting the significant role that dogs play in our lives. Every day there are dogs out there saving lives in war zones, giving confidence and independence to those with disabilities - both mental and physical - 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.”
Said James Middleton: “I am thrilled to be supporting the Kennel Club’s Friends for Life competition. I know first-hand the important role dogs can play in our lives. Through my darkest days the companionship of my dogs was instrumental in my recovery. I am looking forward to hearing some of the heart-warming tales about how other owners’ dogs have changed their lives for the better and celebrating the ways dogs enrich our lives.”
Nominations can be made by visiting www.crufts.org.uk/ffl