Four dogs that have changed lives are finalists in the Crufts dog hero competition, Eukanuba Friends for Life.
The magnificent four are:
Caddie, a Labrador Retriever assistance dog, and his 13-year-old owner Joel Sayer, from Newquay in Cornwall.
Joel had sleep apnoea for the first two years of his life, and was then diagnosed with autism, with a sensory disorder and a speech and language impediment. Before Joel was partnered with Caddie by assistance dog charity Dogs for Good, he could not leave the house, speak to people or live a normal life.
Caddie helps Joel to cope with life. He calms him in times of heightened stress, aids his communication and has brought support not only to Joel but his whole family. Joel’s mother, Janet, said that she burst into tears one day when she was out with Joel and Caddie because she caught sight of her reflection in a shop window and realised that with Caddie by Joel’s side she was, for the first time, able to take her eyes off of Joel for a brief moment and do something that other people take for granted.
Caddie is the finalist for the Giving the Best Start in Life category, which recognises dogs that support and impact the lives of children.
Hudson, a Labrador Retriever guide dog, and owner Nathan Edge, 22, from Mansfield in Nottinghamshire.
Nathan was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at six years old and the inflammation went to the back of his eyes, resulting in his sight gradually deteriorating until he got Hudson when he was 19. A few months later he lost his sight completely, overnight. Nathan was ready to give up on life, but realised that the thing that would get him through this tough time was Hudson, who was at his side throughout, supporting him when he needed it the most. Nathan is now training to be in the England blind football team, which Nathan says would not have been possible without Hudson.
Hudson is the finalist for the Giving Longevity Through Assistance category, for assistance dogs that support their owners throughout the years.
Bowser, the Bull Terrier, and owner Sally Deegan, 26, from Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire. Sally was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which left her depressed and housebound. She and her husband decided to rescue a dog from Battersea Dogs and Cat’s Home at Brands Hatch and adopted Bower because of his big character.
Three months after adopting Bowser, Sally relapsed and had passed out on the sofa. Bowser attracted the attention of Sally’s husband, who was outside and came in to find Sally unconscious. She was then rushed to hospital.
Bowser helps Sally with the physical issues surrounding MS and the mental and emotional strain of the condition, and helped her want to engage with people again.
Bowser is the finalist for the A Life of Friendship category, which celebrates man’s best friend throughout the years, a partner that has seen their owner through the hardest times as well as the happiest.
Charlie, a military dog with the British Army.
Charlie, pictured, is an active military working dog who has completed three operational tours and is currently deployed on a fourth in Afghanistan. Charlie works in support of Infantry units to provide a weapons, ammunition and explosive search capability.
Charlie played a key role in allowing the safe closure of the British base, Camp Bastion, and was one of the last five military working dogs to depart Helmand Province when the camp finally closed in 2014. He protects those around him by carrying out operational service in an often dangerous, and always austere, environment. He is deployed with his handler at very short notice to support Counter Arms Proliferation within the Mediterranean. Adapting to life at sea very quickly in an unusual environment, Charlie has already proved his worth to the Royal Marines; providing an additional level of assurance to the operation. Charlie is at the very frontline of protecting our national security. Most recently he has been trained and prepared for high readiness contingency operations and is ready to fly anywhere in the world to carry out search tasks.
Charlie is the finalist for the Extraordinary Life of a Working Dog category, for dogs who have shown extraordinary qualities through working, including in the army, police force, RAF, airport, search and rescue.
The overall winner will be announced at Crufts on 12th March.