This past week, in addition to sponsoring their renowned Best in Show competition, the Crufts dog show hosted a very special competition. Sponsored by the Kennel Club, Friends for Life honors the extraordinary lives of dogs who have had a dramatic impact on the world. Kennel Club representative Caroline Kisko shared, “Friends for Life celebrates those dogs which quietly go about changing people’s lives in their own unique and special way.”
Past finalists have included such remarkable dogs as Buster, a bomb-sniffing cocker spaniel who helped save countless lives during his five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, sniffing out explosives that resulted in the arrests of suicide bombers. Another hero, Obi, is a Metropolitan police dog who gallantly served alongside his handler through the 2011 riots in his area, incurring serious injury when a brick struck his skull. Some dogs are recognized for their role in locating survivors after devastating events, like the Haiti earthquake. Many contenders are dogs who provide companionship and who help their owners manage disabilities, including diabetic assistant dogs who alert owners when their blood sugar is low. “There is rarely a dry eye in the house during the competition,” stated Caroline Kisko of the Kennel Club.
This year was no exception, with the Friends for Life award going to a three-legged dog, Haatchi and his owner, seven-year-old Owen Howkins. Haatchi was a victim of a railway accident that resulted in the loss of one leg. Owen’s father discovered Haatchi in a shelter and brought him home for his wheelchair-bound son. According to Crufts, “Haatchi has turned Owen’s life around since and the pair truly are an inspiration to all.”
Selecting one winner among so many champions is surely no easy task. However, as any dog owner knows, there is a hero within every one of them, seen in the countless acts of service, affection, and camaraderie they perform every day. To celebrate the heroic role dogs play in our lives and learn more about the Crufts Friends for Life competition, please visit the Crufts website.