A NATIONWIDE search has been launched to find the UK's top dog hero.

The annual Kennel Club Friends for Life competition celebrates a lifetime of friendship and the heartwarming stories of how dogs enrich our lives.

Organisers are now searching for inspiring stories to show just how much dogs do for humans throughout their lives and are calling for the public to nominate a canine companion that deserves to be recognised for what they do.

All winners will receive £5,000 for a dog charity of their choice with runners up receiving £1,000 for their chosen dog charity.

The public can nominate dogs in the following categories:

  • 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 (16 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.

The winner of the Kennel Club's Friends for Life Competition 2019 was PC Dave Wardell and his dog Finn.

Finn was stabbed several times following an attack in 2016, protecting his handler PC Wardell from harm.

PC Wardell said: "Finn was stabbed several times as he protected me from an armed attack in 2016, saving my life.

"Finn was badly injured and his fight for his life led us to launch the ‘Finns Law’ campaign, highlighting the value of all service animals and the injustice of their treatment in the law.

“My life has dramatically changed since winning Friends for Life and what we have gone on to achieve, I don’t know where I would be without Finn.

"He not only saved me from being stabbed, but he has always supported me from a mental health side as well, I owe him my life in so many ways.”

Nominations are open until October 14 with the winner being revealed at Crufts 2020 in Birmingham on Sunday, March 8.

A spokesman for the Kennel Club added: “The Kennel Club Friends for Life competition will be celebrating 15 years at Crufts 2020.

"Over this time, the award has been so important in promoting the significant role that dogs play in our lives.

"Every day there are dogs out there saving lives in war zones, giving confidence and independence to those with disabilities - both mental and physical - and showing remarkable bravery and loyalty as pets.

"The Friends for Life competition epitomises what Crufts is about - we care for dogs, and they care for us as well.”

To nominate a dog please visit www.crufts.org.uk/ffl