Joel and Caddie were finalists in the Friends for Life competition in 2017. Although they didn’t win that year their story touched the heart of millions and since taking part at Crufts their story has continued to ignite all those that hear it.
We caught up with Joel and Caddie to see where they all are now.
Joel, you must have been one of the favourite ever Friends for Life finalists that we have had. What did it mean to you to be picked as one of the finalists?
Being picked as a finalist for friends for life was SO Surprising!
We entered to say thank you to Dogs for Good for giving me Caddie and how he then gave me my life. We never expected to be picked – it was all a huge shock! I’m so grateful to everyone and it makes me feel very proud having Caddie as mine.
What was your favourite moment of being part of the Friends for Life competition?
My favourite moment of being apart of the Friends for Life competition was walking into the arena, then that moment of quiet waiting for the results.
Mum whispered if you don’t win maybe the winner needs it more. We didn’t win, but in the end, really we DID win so many other ways. The Friends for Life competition was just the start of some amazing things that happened and as a result of what happened we’ve been able to help so many more people who have wanted to help Dogs for Good after seeing what Caddie did for me. We’ve been able to say our big thank you after all.
There have been so many things I’ve done because of Friends for Life too; I loved going on the train for the first time and going in a black cab. We have been to London, I’ve been fortunate to meet and cuddle and awful lot of puppies; I’ve had behind the scenes tours of TV studios and been on live TV and radio. Caddie and I have had a lot of fun. One day we came down in a lift and as we walked out people recognised us! That was the first time we were recognised, that was awesome and surreal at the same time!
You have recently moved back to Oxfordshire from where you original lived, how has Caddie helped you in your transition into your new school?
We moved back to Oxfordshire from Cornwall over the summer holidays this year. Initially, Caddie came into school with me to help me get used to all the new people and new class rooms. He helped me to keep calm and feel safe. It was also great as the other kids recognised Caddie and then they also remembered me.
He’s even been in the school mini bus so I could access a school trip and into assembly. I find it hard to sit still but with Caddie I can stroke his head and ears and he’ll rest his head on me which helps me to feel calmer. It feels like that with Caddie by my side I can do anything.
Your story has inspired many more people to give their support and to raise funds for Dogs for Good. We have also heard that you have had the opportunity to name more Dogs for Good puppies, what names have you chosen?
Through the donations that Dogs for Good had after the Friends for Life completion I’ve been given the honour of naming two puppies. The first is called Alvin and the second is called Pepper. Alvin has recently started his training and Pepper is still a puppy and living with his volunteer puppy socialiser family. They are both are adorable and it’s lovely to know that they’ll also one day be able to help someone who needs a bit of extra help, just like I did with Caddie.
We also hear that you have been guests of honours at lots of fun events, do you enjoy these?
Caddie and I have been invited to lots of things just because of Friends for Life. It’s been busy but I’ve enjoyed so many things that I wouldn’t have got to do if I hadn’t take part. We’ve been a guest of honour at several events and been able to say a big thank you to people we have inspired to do amazing things for Dogs for Good. It’s been fun and I love the cakes almost as much as Caddie has loved the doggy cakes and treats! I enjoy talking about Caddie and Dogs for Good and how the money they have raised will help a disabled person like me.
What is your favourite thing to do with Caddy?
I love just having Caddie with me. There are so many things I love to do with Caddie, I need to search my head to just pick one ... my brain is crowded with so many happy times!
Perhaps the best is also one of the simplest things we do. Sitting with Caddie alone and being peaceful together, him urging me to stroke him and nudging me for attention. Then snuggling up together, just this gives me so much - he makes me feel whole.
Caddie is my best friend we are like magnets sticking together always.... Caddie keeps me safe.