'˜Hudson helped me through dark times'
The bond between man and dog goes back for thousands of years - but for Mansfield's Nathan Edge, the day he was introduced to his '˜best friend' Hudson was truly life-changing.
Nathan, of Claymoor Close, 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.
When he was 19, Nathan was introduced to Labrador guide dog Hudson before, just a few months later, he lost his sight completely overnight.
The change in circumstances had a profound effect on Nathan but the now 22-year-old was brought through the toughest times by having Hudson by his side throughout.
“I woke up over the weekend with darkness.
“I was 19 at the time and it was a lot to deal with,” explained Nathan, who attends the Royal National College for the Blind.
“I had never really had a dog before. I did not understand the bond that you can have. Hudson dragged me out of the darkest times.
“I was in a dark place, I did not want to be here but he pulled me through. I owe him so much.
“He’s such a loving animal. He can give you such a giggle. As a guide dog it’s so important to have that good bond. He has opened up my life.”
The pair have become a well known double act around the streets of Mansfield and on social media - where they have a combined Twitter following of more than 20,000.
And now, their unique bond has been recognised after the Hudson was nominated for the Giving Longevity Through Assistance category of this year’s Eukanuba Friends for Life competition at Crufts - the world’s largest dog show.
The competition celebrates heart-warming stories of friendship in adversity, where dogs have truly earned the title of man’s best friend, through bravery, support or companionship.
As well as helping him with day-to-day activities, Hudson has also helped boost Nathan’s confidence - he is now training with the England blind football team.
Nathan has in turn raised thousands of pounds for Guide Dogs as a thank you for bringing Hudson into his life.
In 2015, Nathan completed the Nottingham Robin Hood Marathon, along with running guide Peter Jones-Hall.
They had planned to enter the London Marathon later in the year but had to withdraw when Nathan suffered a knee injury.
Nathan and Hudson made the news again last year when they were asked to leave a Mansfield Woodhouse restaurant over ‘hygiene concerns’ raised by staff.
Ironically, Nathan had been to Parliament just days before to support the Access All Areas campaign which looks to stamp out discrimination involving people with guide dogs.
“Hudson helps me with getting us out and about,” Nathan added.
“Before I had him I wouldn’t even get a taxi but now we’ve been all over London.
“I’m also part of the England Development Blind football team, I would not have done that without the confidence Hudson gave me.
“To make the final would be great, it’s what Hudson deserves and it’s a reward for him for all that he has given me and how he has changed my life.”