9-12 March 2023, The NEC Birmingham

The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award

Hero support dog - Pete and the Newfoundland's

The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award, previously known as the Friends for Life competition, takes place at Crufts each year. It celebrates the unique relationship people have with their dogs, the important role man’s best friend plays throughout our lives and the support they give us in the face of adversity.

Our five categories are:

  • Extraordinary life of a working dog – for those who have shown extraordinary qualities working in the army, police force, RAF, airport, search and rescue etc.
  • Hero support dog - celebrating all support and assistance dogs, from guide dogs, hearing dogs, medical detection dogs and autism assistance dogs to support dogs, including therapy dogs or pets who provide emotional support
  • Best friends – celebrating a pet dog who has seen its owner through the hardest times, as well as the happiest
  • Child’s champion – recognising a dog that has supported and had a positive impact on a child's life (17 years and under)
  • Rescue dog hero – for a rescue dog who has overcome adversity and gone on to improve the life of its owner/s

We want to celebrate and share the amazing stories of how dogs give back to us every day of our lives. There is one finalist per category and an overall winner, decided through a public vote, will be announced in the main arena at Crufts. The winner and the runners up will receive generous donations from The Kennel Club Charitable Trust for their nominated canine charity, to help make a difference for dogs.


Voting has now closed for the 2022 awards and voting will open in summer 2022. 


Bob, and a wider team of lifesaving Newfoundlands led by Pete Lewin, have been announced as the winners of The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award competition at Crufts 2022. Find out more about their story.

Finalists for The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award 2022

Rescue Dog Hero - Loretta and Chewie

Chewie was found abandoned with his littermates at just 12 weeks old. They were heartbreakingly found half buried in a bag with their paws and mouths taped up. Loretta and Ray Whiteley, from Leyland, Lancashire, adopted Chewie and were determined to care for him after his sad start to life. And Chewie fast became a very important family member, helping Ray, who has multiple sclerosis, with his confidence.

View Loretta and Chewie story

Extraordinary Life of a Working Dog - Anton and Simba

Five-year-old Springer Spaniel, Simba, assists his handler Anton Keach in the London Fire Brigade as a Fire Investigation Dog. Simba is a crucial member of this life-saving team because he can very quickly detect a variety of ignitable substances and help determine whether a fire has been started deliberately, ensuring justice for victims of horrific arson crimes.

View Anton and Simba story

Child's Champion - Olivia and Ruby

Golden Retriever, Ruby has a special relationship with 16-year-old Olivia Cunliffe, from Barnsley, Yorkshire. Olivia has cerebral palsy and Ruby helps her every day with her pain, anxiety and stress. Olivia loves to give her biscuits and Ruby likes to bring her clothes and help in any way she can.

View Olivia and Ruby story

Best Friends - Scott and Milo

Scott Bailey, from Crewe in Cheshire, started losing his sight in 2019. Scott applied for a guide dog but sadly, due to Covid-19 the country went into lockdown and his training with Milo the Golden Retriever was postponed. Eventually, in September 2020, Milo finally became a full-time family member of the Bailey household and by November, he and Scott had qualified together as owner and guide dog.

View Scott and Milo story

Hero Support Dog - Pete and the Newfoundlands

Pete Lewin, from Leicester, runs a non-profit organisation working with his Newfoundland dogs for suicide prevention. This amazing team provides support for staff from front-line emergency services and military veterans, and those struggling with their mental health. With the Covid-19 pandemic, this has never been more important.

View Pete story