Lora and Libby - Support Dog of a Paralympic Hopeful
Lora was born with a hereditary sight-loss condition, which also affects her mother and two brothers. But losing her sight by the age of five has not affected Lora's determination, and she is currently in training for a cycling place in the London 2012 Paralympic games.
She is accompanied at all times by her faithful friend and guide dog, Libby, a black Labrador Retriever.
From the moment they met, Libby has rarely left Lora's side, attending training sessions - where she sits on the track - or waiting for her in the changing rooms if she is out on the road. She even gave Lora the confidence to move away from home to go and study physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham.
Lora says: "Libby is amazing. The first day we met she bounded out of the back of the training van and jumped up to see me, tail wagging -- it was as though she knew she was meant to be with me.
"My training schedule at the moment is really busy, and Libby puts in just as many hours as I do, but never complains! Just finding my way to the velodrome without Libby can be a draining experience as all my concentration has to go into navigating my way there safely. When I'm with Libby I don't need to worry about any of that which means I can focus all my efforts into my cycling. Any medals I win in 2012 I will be sharing with her!"
Phil and Obi -- Police Dog
Obi and his handler PC Phil Wells were on the front line during the riots on 6th August in Tottenham, when a large crowd began throwing bottles and bricks at the police. Obi was struck by a brick, but bravely carried on working despite bleeding from his nose. After an assessment, Obi was found to have a fractured skull above the left eye socket.
Phil says: 'He is my best friend. To see him get injured and to see him on a theatre table - and you're not sure what has happened and you're not sure if it's touch and go - is very emotional. I have had him since he was a puppy, and I spend more time with him than my children and family. When I am at work, he is at work and when I am at home, he is at home." Obi has now made a full recovery from his injuries and continues to loyally work for the Metropolitan Police, helping to protect the public.
Karen and Ruby -- Companion Dog
Karen brought Ruby Roo for her daughter two and a half years ago, but from the moment she got her, Ruby became her dog. Karen says: "After suffering from depression for nearly 25 years, after a childhood of bullying and losing my father at an early age, Ruby has finally given me something to live for.
"Ruby follows me wherever I go and I take her everywhere with me. She has given me the confidence to get out and start meeting people again. I first took Ruby to a local fun dog show with my daughter as I couldn't go to places alone. I have now met some lovely people and, because of Ruby, I am now studying to be a dog trainer.
"I still find it really hard if I don't have Ruby with me, and she makes me such a strong person. I have good and bad days, but Ruby is always by my side. She never judges me or tells me to pull myself together, and she is always there for me. I can never repay Ruby for what she has done for me. Ruby is my world and my lifeline, and I truly believe that if it wasn't for her I'm not sure that I would be here today. I love my Ruby so much."
Michael and Buster -- Service Dog
Buster is now retired from the RAF after surviving five tours of duty, braving bombs and bullets. He has returned home a military hero and is now enjoying retirement at home with RAF Police Sergeant Michael Barrow who he worked with tirelessly.
While in service, Buster saved countless lives by sniffing out explosive vests, leading to the arrests of two suicide bombers. He joined his comrades repeatedly on foot patrols through the poppy fields, hunting Taliban insurgents and tracking down booby trap bombs left behind for British and American troops.
Since Buster's Friends for Life nomination, Michael has been redeployed on a tour of duty. Flight Sergeant Phil Brown will be present at Crufts on behalf of Michael.
Steve and Kizzie - Assistance dog
Steve joined the Royal Navy at the age of 17 and progressed through the ranks, working with the Royal Marines and earning the coveted Green Beret in the process.
In 2008, while travelling home from work, Steve was hit by a car and thrown from his motorbike. He suffered a burst fracture of the neck which irreparably damaged his spinal cord leaving him paralysed from the shoulders down. His world completely collapsed.
After a long time in hospital, Steve was transferred to Headley Court military rehab unit, where he heard about Canine Partners. A visit was arranged, and that's when he saw what they could do and how they could help him.
Before Steve met Kizzie, he had lost a lot of weight, had anxiety and breathing difficulties, and was suffering from depression. Coping with the transition from an active lifestyle into a wheelchair was soul-destroying, as he could see the effect it was having on his family. The only interaction he had with his children was to talk or watch them from a wheelchair or bed.
There was an instant bond between Steve and Kizzie and she has given him a new lease of life. When they go out and about, she helps by getting those difficult lift buttons that are just out of his reach, and he doesn't have to take a carer with him. In a shop, she takes his wallet and passes it to the cashier.
At home, when he drops something like his phone, remote or keys she instantly picks them up and returns them to his lap. But the real reward he has from Kizzie is the life she has helped him get back, in particular the close relationship with his young children, as he can take them out to play again down the park with Kizzie.