Autistic boy's 'guardian angel' Labrador retriever competes for Crufts award

A Labrador retriever described as an autistic boy's "guardian angel" made the finals of Crufts' dog hero prize.

Caddie just missed out after being nominated along with three other dogs for the Giving the Best Start in Life prize.

He works as an assistance dog to 13-year-old Joel Sawyer, who has autism and sleep apnoea.

The dog has become a close companion after being trained and given to Joel, of Newquay, Cornwall, by the charity Dogs for Good.

One of his main roles is helping Joel cope with stress.

Joel's mum, Janet, said: "I explained to Joel that he and Caddie were finalists and told him that we would be going to London and to Crufts - two things that are completely out of his comfort zone so I wasn't sure how he would feel about it all.

"But Joel was so positive, he just said that he would do it because he hoped it would help raise funds and train more assistance dogs just like Caddie."

Guide dog Hudson, also a Labrador retriever, Bull Terrier Bowser and military dog Charlie completed the round of contenders in the category judged by a public vote on Sunday.

Bowser was named the winner.

The four-day competition is expected to have attracted around 160,000 dog owners and fans to the Birmingham NEC.

The best in show category closed the contest, which has seen entries from 56 countries.

The competition is in its 126th year and has hosted hundreds of cross-breeds that are ranked by their agility, obedience and heelwork to music ability, along with other skills.

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