Round of a-paws for Rudi’s nomination

Rudi the labrador from Thornton, owned by Pauline Smith
Rudi the labrador from Thornton, owned by Pauline Smith

A Thornton dog lover reckons making the final in the Kennel Club’s Eukanaba Friends for Life competition, at Crufts 2017, would be the icing on the cake, after nominating her special pooch for the prize.

Pauline Smith has put forward her labrador, Rudi, for the accolade, after the nine-year-old helped her through a difficult stage of her life in which she saw her mother pass away and her marriage break up in a matter of months.

Rudi was instrumental in getting her back on her feet and, since then, veterinary nurse Pauline has gone on to remarry and welcome 18-month-old daughter Scarlett into the world.

But the 31-year-old admits life could have been very different, had she not met her canine pal.

“My friend’s mum used to breed labradors and I saw him when he came in for his first vaccinations, and they gave him to me as a wedding present. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” she said.

Pauline said she found herself basically alone after the death of her mum and the break-up of her marriage within two months.

“After that, it was just me,” she said. “I was grieving and had to move back in with my dad, and that was a big step for me. Then the opportunity came up for me to get a flat. That was the first time I had ever lived on my own, but Rudi was with me.

“I don’t know I would have got through life without him; he was amazing. He has had his own ups and downs, including having spinal surgery, but he is one in a million.”

The pair will be hoping for a trip out for the Kennel Club’s Eukanuba Friends for Life showpiece on Sunday, March 12 at Birmingham’s NEC arena.

The Kennel Club’s Eukanuba Friends for Life 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.

And Pauline admits she would love for Rudi to receive the top prize at the world’s largest dog show as the perfect reward for his friendship.

“If we were to reach the final of the competition at Crufts, it would be amazing,” she said. “Everyone who knows us knows how close we are but it is everything he has been through in his life. He will always be my hero.

“He got me out of the house, and was there when I lost my friends because of the break-up of my marriage.”