Crufts 2016 Friends for Life nominees revealed
An autism assistance dog which stopped a seven year-old boy biting himself in frustration and shutting himself off in his own world; a Labrador which saved his teenage owner twice from going into a potentially fatal diabetic coma; a Lurcher giving his owner a reason to live again following complications in pregnancy that left her unable to have children; and a dog helping his owner who considered taking her own life following depression caused by bullying, have been selected as finalists for the Crufts dog hero competition, Eukanuba Friends for Life.
The annual Eukanuba Friends for Life competition, run by the Kennel Club, celebrates inspiring stories of canine companionship in the face of adversity. The four dogs which have made the 2016 shortlist were selected by a panel of judges, including dog loving actor Martin Clunes, for their outstanding loyalty to their owners and for the way that they have irrevocably changed their lives.
Public voting is now open and the dog that goes on to receive the most votes will win the competition, with the winner being announced in the Genting Arena at the Birmingham NEC on the final day of Crufts, Sunday 13th March.
The finalists for 2016 are:
- Scooby, the Labrador Retriever, and owner Sophie Pearman from Tenterden, Kent – Scooby joined the Pearman family as an eight week-old puppy and has since learned to monitor diabetic Sophie’s blood sugar levels, saving her twice from going into a potentially fatal diabetic coma, and acting as a constant companion to the thirteen year-old. Sophie, was born with a bleed on her brain (hydrocephalus) and spina bifida and her family were told that she would never walk, talk or read and that she may not survive. However, she proved everyone wrong and fought for her life, much to the amazement of her neurosurgeon. Sophie has had seven major brain operations and has spent the majority of her life in hospital.
- Azerley, the Golden Retriever cross, and owner
Cohen Hadfield from Rotherham, South Yorkshire – Autism assistance dog, Azerley came in to Cohen’s life just over a year ago and has changed Cohen and his family’s life. The seven year old suffers from several serious medical issues including hearing impairment, complex epilepsy, and global developmental delay, and before Azerley arrived, life for the family had become very difficult. Azerley has stopped Cohen biting himself in frustration and shutting himself off in his own world. Since he and Cohen met they have been inseparable – the beloved pet has dramatically reduced Cohen’s anxiety levels and encouraged him to interact with his surroundings, which has had a tremendously positive impact on his everyday life.
- Boo, the Lurcher, and owner Rosie Reid from
Swindon, Wiltshire – Boo arrived during a particularly difficult time in Rosie’s life. She had recently suffered a miscarriage which left her unable to have children and as a result had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Boo quickly learned to detect her owner’s oncoming PTSD attacks and helped her with day-to-day tasks. Despite helping others through their illnesses, Boo is not without her own health problems. She suffers from a heart condition and when she recently collapsed, vets didn’t expect her to last the night. Against all the odds though, the plucky Lurcher is back on her feet and by Rosie’s side once more.
- Teddy Bear, the Lhasa Apso cross, and owner
Louise Jacobs from Colchester, Essex – Teddy Bear the little crossbreed has drastically changed Louise’s life. As someone who has lived with depression for many years, as well as dealing with physical problems resulting from a car accident when she was a teenager, Louise struggles with day-to-day tasks and Teddy has been trained to help with these. Proving to be much more than just a companion, Teddy has given Louise her independence back and the pair regularly attend dog shows as well as raising funds for various charities. People have been so impressed with Teddy Bear that he now has his own official fan club.
Actor and Eukanuba Friends for Life judge, Martin Clunes, commented: “The quality this year is as high as it’s ever been in this competition. It testifies how many amazing heroic relationships there are between people and their dogs and the fact that dogs just simply keep on giving.
“It is a massive honour for the owners that their wonderful dogs get the recognition they truly deserve. Congratulations to all the finalists.”
Annaliese Reekie, Managing Director for competition sponsors, Eukanuba UK comments: “The Eukanuba Friends for Life competition celebrates the unique relationship we have with our dogs. At Eukanuba, we encourage owners to bring out the extraordinary in their dogs by providing them with premium nutrition and appropriate care, and as such, we’re thrilled to be sponsoring a competition that cares as much about our canine companions as we do. I have always had dogs in my life so know the joy, comfort and loyalty they bring – ultimately they will never let you down.
“All of the stories told by the entrants show how a dog has, in some way, transformed their lives, showing quite simply how important dogs are for us. I want to thank all of the people who decided to be part of the Eukanuba Friends for Life competition and have taken the time to share their incredible stories about their extraordinary dogs. We look forward to celebrating with our four finalists, and ultimately crowning the winning duo at Crufts on Sunday 13th March.”
The winner of the Eukanuba Friends for Life competition will receive £1,500 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for the charity of the choice, with the other finalists receiving £1,000.
Judges from the Kennel Club and Eukanuba, alongside actor Martin Clunes, TV presenter Peter Purves, and journalist Stuart Winter, selected four inspiring finalists to go forward for the public vote. Voting opens today at 10.30am and closes at 2pm on Sunday 13th March and the winner will be revealed in the Genting Arena at Crufts that evening.
To vote for your favourite, text AZ, BOO, SCOOBY or TEDDY to 82727. Each text vote will cost £1 plus the standard network rate. All profits from votes will be donated to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust to help make a difference for dogs.
You can watch videos of the finalists at www.youtube.com/crufts.