Owen and Haatchi win Friends for Life at Crufts 2013

Three legged dog, Haatchi, was the special star of Crufts tonight as he was announced as the winner of the Friends for Life competition.

The heart warming competition showcased five amazing hero dogs and called on the British public to vote for their favourite. Today (Sunday March 10th) Owen Howkins and his dog were announced as the winners and were presented with their award in the NEC Arena at Crufts, broadcast live on Channel 4 and presented by Clare Balding.

The proud winners, from Basingstoke, Hampshire were presented with their trophy and a cheque for £1,500 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust which Owen is donating to the Naomi House (Children’s Hospice).

Haatchi an Anatolian Shepherd dog, had a severely damaged leg and tail amputated after being deliberately tied to a railway line in London and struck by a train. Just a month after his near death experience he was found on Facebook by the family of seven year old Owen Howkins, who has a rare genetic condition called Schwartz Jampel Syndrome, which causes his muscles to be permanently tense.

Owen, who was withdrawn and painfully shy, now has a new lease of life thanks to his beloved dog. He fund raises for a range of charities with Haatchi, including Naomi House, and enjoys socialising on dog walks and at dog shows. Haatchi, who is a therapy dog, will soon begin visiting soldier amputees as a result of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and sick and terminally ill children.

Speaking about their win, Owen said: “I am so happy. Thank you to everybody who has voted for me. I am glad that Haatchi is in my life because he makes me smile all the time and  is my best friend.”

Dog lover and Chairman of British Paralympic Association, Tim Reddish presented the annual Kennel Club award for the first time this year.

Friends for Life is a competition which celebrates dogs that have truly earned the title of man’s best friend through bravery, support or companionship. The four other finalists of this year’s competition were Tracey and Daisy, the dog that helped her family through the loss of their son;Sally and Brin, a dog that helped to save soldiers’ lives in Afghanistan before being rescued by Nowzad; PC Dan Thomas of the West Midlands Police and Janus, a dog that helped to secure more than 430 arrests and Max and Ziggy, Dogs for the Disabled and Sue and Byron Harvey.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club spokesperson, said: “We congratulate Owen and Haatchi on winning this award, they are truly deserving winners and their story is so incredibly moving. All the dogs have shown unwavering loyalty to their owners and are a great example of the incredible difference that dogs can make to people’s lives.

“Crufts celebrates the diverse role that dogs play in society; their vast range of talents, jobs and the hobbies we enjoy with them: the reasons why they have earned the title of man’s best friend.

Each and every one of the finalists today has helped to change and save lives, and can teach us all a lesson about loyalty, companionship and bravery.”

For more information visit www.crufts.org.uk or go to http://www.w-w-i.com/crufts_2013/  for free downloadable images from Crufts 2013.

10th March 2013