Adding further proof to the belief that we don’t deserve dogs, we present you with five pooches that will melt your heart.
Each of these loving creatures is a finalist in the Friends for Life category at this year’s Crufts dog show, held at the Birmingham NEC next month, and it’s up to the public to decide who the winner should be.
It’s going to be a tough call.
There’s Snoopy, who provides cuddles and comfort to Ollie, a three-year-old who suffers from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and Emma the assistance dog for seven-year-old Milli who has Down’s Syndrome. You could also choose Lance, who has spent the better part of his life sniffing out bombs and protecting soldiers and Finn, who saved his owner during a knife attack and nearly died in the process. Or will it be Ringo, who donates his blood to save other dogs.
Each finalist has already won £1,000 to donate to a dog charity of their choice, and the main winner will take home £5,000 to his or her charity.
Go ahead, have a read of these fantastic dog stories and see who wins your heart (and vote ).
Ollie and his hero dog, Snoopy
Ollie Gage, originally from Banbury, Oxfordshire, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at three years old.
Because of his illness, he’s forced to remain inside to avoid catching an infection, which can be a lonely experience for the little one.
Thankfully, he has his best friend by his side.
It's certainly unpleasant to take your dog outside when it's snowing or raining, but don't forget that dogs' paws are just as sensitive to heat as human skin.
Snoopy the cross breed dog was adopted by the Gage family when he was 10 weeks old, just three months before Ollie received his life-changing diagnosis.
He takes care of Ollie by giving him plenty of cuddles and playing with him to lift his spirits and be a friend in need.
‘I don’t know how my son would have coped without Snoopy by his side, Ollie was isolated from his friends because of infection, but Snoopy was there and ready for whatever was needed, whether it was a cuddle or a play,’ said Ollie’s mother, Rebecca.
‘Snoopy was even allowed in the hospital when Ollie got really sick and knew when Ollie needed him and would just lay with him. He helped Ollie learn to walk again and has been the light in such a dark time.’
Milli and her hero dog, Emma
Emma the Golden Retriever is the only female dog up for the award, which only makes us like her more.
She is an assistance dog who was adopted by Steve Gunn to help his seven-year-old daughter Milli, who was born with Down’s syndrome. She suffers from numerous other health issues, including a hole in her heart, which she was diagnosed with when she was just four weeks old.
If your dog isn't feeling well, add some low-sodium chicken broth to the drinking water.
Milli also suffers from anxiety and has been in and out of hospital, and often struggles with confidence issues when trying to make friends. Emma, who was adopted by the family through the charity Dogs for Good, is now her best pal.
She retrieves medicated drinks for Milli, and picks up dropped items for her.
And she also calms her down. Not too long ago, Milli was getting short of breath when playing, so Emma put her head in her lap to help her relax and calm her breathing.
‘Emma’s turned a light on for Milli and given her the confidence to shine as brightly out in the wider world as she does at home,’ said Steve.
Lee and his hero dog, Lance
Lance isn’t your ordinary dog.
While all dogs are to be cherished and appreciated for their skills (sitting, fetching, cuddling), Lance is even more special. He’s an army-trained arms and explosives search dog.
In other words, he hunts for bombs.
During his training, he formed an instant bond with his now human, Army private Lee Hampson, and the two have been together ever since, travelling across the world and serving their country.
They were even deployed to Afghanistan together, where they assisted with searches for explosives and weapons.
Limit treats to training rewards. This is an excellent way to make sure your dog views treats as special rather than expected. It’s also helpful in keeping your pet from becoming overweight or obese. Feed a species-appropriate diet, and partner with a holistic or integrative vet to maintain your pet’s well-being.
In 2016, they faced another challenge as the army tried to split them up but Lee refused and when he accepted a new post in Cyprus, fought to take Lance with him.
Lance, who retired last Christmas, is now nine years old and is living with Lee’s family in Rutland, Leicestershire.
‘Lance looked after me in Afghanistan and helped lots of people get home safe to their families – now it’s my turn to look after him. He is my best friend,’ said Lance.
David and his hero dog, Finn
Finn the German Shepherd is the epitome of man’s best friend – he bravely defended his human during a robbery and saved his life.
His owner, PC David Wardwell, was attacked with a knife when Finn jumped in, grabbed the perpetrator and despite being stabbed several times, didn’t let go until reinforcements arrived at the scene.
Thanks to Finn’s heroic efforts, David got away with a minor injury to his hand, while Finn himself was badly injured, but thankfully survived.
Unfortunately, despite the horrific injuries, he didn’t get justice in court, as there is currently no criminal damage law for service animals, something David is now campaigning to change.
Keep Them Active. Energy varies between breeds, says Dr. Becker. “Greyhounds, Labs, Golden Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers, Border Collies, and other active breeds have unfathomable energy.” He continues, “wolves spend 80% of their time awake, moving. With cats, there’s not such an exercise requirement,” but providing outlets for play at home is still crucial. For both cats and dogs he recommends food-dispensing that “recreates the hunt,” and puzzle feeders that engage your pet’s “body and mind.”
He has started Finn’s Law, a new piece of legislation that will make attacking a service animal a criminal offence.
Sarah and her hero dog, Ringo
Ringo the greyhound is a rescue who has saved not only his humans, but also other dogs.
The former Irish race dog had a tough start to life when at just three years old, he was retired and found himself without a home.
He was subsequently rescued by the Greyhound Trust who paired him with his new owner, Sarah Candy from Luton.
Sarah credits Ringo with helping her turn her life around and becoming healthier, as well as supporting her daughters through their studies.
What’s more, the fantastic pooch is also a blood donor at the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire and according to his owner has saved ‘countless dogs’ lives’.
‘When I saw him on the Greyhound Trust Facebook site it was love at first sight,’ said Sarah.
‘Ringo has changed all our lives as well as saving countless dogs’ lives with the blood he donates. He is never happier than when he is at home chilling on our sofa with our three cats – he is such a loving, wonderful dog.’