The Kennel Club Launches Search for UK’s Hero Dog

The nationwide search has begun to find the UK’s top heroic dog to be crowned the 2021 winner of The Kennel Club Dog Hero Award, formerly known as the Friends for Life competition, celebrating a lifetime of friendship and highlighting the heart-warming stories of how humans and dogs transform and enrich each other’s lives.

At this year’s Crufts, Lyndsey Uglow with her dog Leo were announced as the winners of the Kennel Club’s 2020 Friends for Life competition, presented by James Middleton. Leo, a Golden Retriever, heads up a team of therapy dogs who visit the Southampton Children’s Hospital to provide animal assisted intervention. Leo and friends have been visiting the hospital up to five times a week for the past seven years. The team is made up of six dogs and four very experienced handlers who have helped more than 10,000 often critically ill children.

Speaking about their win at Crufts, Lyndsey said: “I know it is just Leo and I up here, but we are a team of four handlers and six dogs. The fact that the public recognised us in this way is quite overwhelming and absolutely lovely. I will share it with the staff and patients at the hospital, who we are privileged enough to work with.”

The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, 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 who deserves to be recognised for what they do for the newly titled Kennel Club Dog Hero Award.

The winner of the Kennel Club Dog Hero Award, which is supported by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, will be revealed at Crufts 2021 in Birmingham on Sunday 14th March, and will be awarded £5,000 for a dog charity of their choice.  Runners up will receive £1,000 for their chosen dog charity, with all grants 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 12th October 2020 and five finalists will be chosen to go forward to the final at Crufts 2021, where the overall winner, selected by public vote, will be announced before the grand finale of the Crufts Best in Show award on 14th March.

Vanessa McAlpine, Crufts Show Manager commented: “We are very much looking forward to holding the Kennel Club Dog Hero Award competition at Crufts in 2021 which will be the 130th anniversary show. The newly named competition will showcase simply why the award is 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 Kennel Club Dog Hero Award epitomises what Crufts is about – we care for dogs, and they care for us as well.

“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. The winner will take centre stage at Crufts 2021, 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 Kennel Club Dog Hero to put them forward for recognition in this competition.”

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

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