Meet the furry finalists for Crufts' Friends for Life competition

Working dogs, assistance dogs, pets and rescue dogs have all been nominated as very good boys and girls.

Five pets are in contention for Crufts’ dog hero competition for 2019, proving that some pups go above and beyond in being mankind’s best friend.

The Kennel Club’s Friends for Life competition looks to showcase the animals across five categories including working dogs, assistance dogs, pets and rescue dogs.

Here are the very good boys and girls up for the award this year.

Finn the German shepherd is nominated in the Man’s Best Friend category for saving owner Pc David Wardell’s life while working as a police dog, receiving life-threatening injuries in the process.

The pair were chasing a robbery suspect in October 2016 who turned and attacked with a knife, stabbing Finn in the head and chest as he leapt to protect David.

Crufts 2019
Pc David Wardell from Hertfordshire with dog Finn (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“Finn put himself in the way of the thrust of that knife and in my mind undoubtedly saved my life,” said David, from Burtingford, Hertfordshire.

In the eyes of the law, harming a police animal is currently treated as criminal damage – the same as breaking a window.

But new legislation, named Finn’s Law after the courageous creature, is hoping to change that.

“He’s giving back to the other service animals out there day-in, day-out protecting society,” said David, who adopted Finn when he retired.

“Finn’s gone from enforcing the law to hopefully creating one which will protect his kind.”

Golden retriever Emma has been nominated as the hero assistance dog for her help supporting seven-year-old Milli, from Essex.

Milli was born with Down’s Syndrome and has a number of other conditions, including high anxiety, but father Steve Gunn described the transformative effect Emma has had.

Crufts 2019
Milli Gunn from Essex with dog Emma (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“Since having Emma [Milli has] totally changed, as long as she’s got Emma in the vicinity she’s great, she’s really given her so much more confidence,” said Steve.

Emma will also help find Milli’s cup and medication if she’s mislaid them, as well as supporting her if sh’s out of breath.

“She pulls the whole family together somehow. She helps the family become more of a unit,” said Steve.

Ringo was rescued by the Greyhound Trust after retiring from racing at three years old. Now he gives blood to help other dogs more than four times a year.

Crufts 2019
Sarah Candy from Luton with dog Ringo (Jonathan Brady/PA)

On donation day, he goes to the vet, has a needle inserted into the jugular vein on his neck and donates a pint of blood.

“Ringo is the perfect donor for us because each donation can go to at least two patients and probably more than that,” said Charlotte Russo, a senior blood transfusion nurse.

“And temperament-wise he’s always happy to be here, he lies very still on the table. He’s perfect.”

Owner Sarah Candy from Luton described Ringo as “one in a million” for the 25 dogs he’s saved – and one cat – he has saved through 17 donations to date.

Snoopy the cross breed was 10 weeks old when the Gage family adopted him and he quickly became friends with three-year-old Ollie Gage.

But only three months later Ollie was diagnosed with leukaemia, meaning more than three years of treatment for Ollie in which he had to learn to walk again.

Crufts 2019
Oli Gage from Banbury with his dog Snoopy (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“Snoopy has just been the constant friend that Ollie couldn’t have anywhere else,” said mum Emma, from Banbury.

“Snoopy helped him because he had to go out for a walk. I think that encouraged Ollie into putting in some more effort to learning to walk again.”

“I like to cuddle him, I like to feed him and I especially like playing football with him,” said Ollie, now seven.

“I never thought in my entire life that they would have the bond that they do together… Wherever Ollie is snoopy is never far behind,” said Emma.

Lance the Labrador retriever is an arms and explosives search dog in the Army, who can count postings in Afghanistan and Cyprus among his tours of duty.

Crufts 2019
Private Lee Hampson from Rutland with his dog Lance (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Private Lee Hampson, from Rutland, said he clicked very quickly with Lance when they started working together.

“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 Pte Hampson.

Now nine years old and retired, Lance lives at home with Lee and his family and has been nominated in the Extraordinary Life of a Working Dog category.

The public can vote for their favourite finalist on the Crufts website up until March 10 – and the winner will receive £5,000 for their favourite charity.

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