A Mansfield guide dog owner says he can’t wait to see his beloved companion get the recognition he deserves after making the final of a special competition which celebrates ‘man’s best friend’.
Nathan Edge, of Claymoor Close, and his labrador cross golden retriever guide dog Hudson are preparing to make a trip to Birmingham’s NEC for Crufts 2017, after Hudson was named as one of four finalists for the prestigious Eukanuba Friends for Life competition.
The competition celebrates heart-warming stories of friendship in adversity, through bravery, support or companionship.
Judges from the Kennel Club and Eukanuba selected four finalists to go forward for the public vote with the winner set to be revealed in the Main Arena at Crufts on Sunday March 12.
Nathan, a former student at Tupton Hall School, said: “It was amazing to find out that we’d been nominated in the first place, it was actually my partner who made the nomination and I had no idea.
“And then to find out that we were actually finalists as well – I didn’t expect anything like that. I’m very proud and it’s exactly what Hudson deserves.
“We’re all incredibly excited to be attending Crufts this year, it’s just such a massive competition. It will be amazing just to be a part of that.
“I feel really privileged, I know Hudson is going to be excited with so many dogs around.
“We appreciate the fact people are going to be voting for us, we’ve met so many people over our three and a half year journey.
“That’s going to continue. I’m really grateful to people who have supported us previously and people are who going to support us in the future. We just hope we do everyone proud.”
Nathan was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at the age of six with the inflammation spreading to the back of his eyes, resulting in the deterioration of his sight.
He was paired with Hudson aged 19 before losing his sight just a few months later, and seemingly being left facing a world of darkness.
But thanks to his dog, Nathan was gradually able to move forward and three-and-a-half years later, he has raised over £16,000 and counting for Guide Dogs and is training in Hereford at the Royal National College for the Blind in the England Development Squad (football) where he is working towards a full-time contract.
“I’ve always regarded myself to be quite lucky because throughout that time I had Hudson by my side. With his help, I picked myself up and started to move forward with my life,” he added.
“That was three years ago and I’ve actually probably done more with my life in the last three years than I probably ever would have done and that’s all thanks to him.
“I was in a very difficult place, I was losing all my sight and he came into my life and rescued me from not having a life really.
“I’ve been able to get back into sport. When I did lose my sight it was just a massive part of my life that was ripped away from me.
“Having Hudson gave me the freedom to go out an express myself, he gave me the confidence to try new things.
“I’m setting my sights on one day being a Paralympian, Tokyo 2020 is the aim really.”