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Crufts Friends for Life

Sam and his best friend Josie

"She's yellow, small and my best friend." Sam Daly had been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This life-limiting condition had taken a toll on Sam and his entire family. "He's gotten progressively more angry and he gets very frustrated," explains his mother Sara. "He's withdrawn into himself. He's gotten extremely physical, hitting out at myself, my husband, his sister…anyone and everything. My concern would be that he would end up in some kind of institution because he had become unmanageable."

In 2009, Sam was matched with Josie, a Yellow Lab, that wanted to be friends with everyone. With Josie at his side, Sam began to blossom. After being with the family for only two weeks, Josie amazed the family by helping Sam change into his pajamas. He had not been able to do that independently for years.

Josie helps to get Sam out of bed and change his clothes. Sam is even able to now play in his room. Before, when he would drop things, he was unable to pick them up. Now Josie takes care of that for him. "Unconditional love. Absolutely unconditional," explains Sara. "She doesn't judge him. She is there all of the time. She is consistent. She is his best friend. You can just see it at the way they look at each other."

"She loves me, a lot," says Sam. "Now that I have Josie, I'm really, really, really, really happy. She's my best friend in the whole world."

Because of her invaluable assistance to Sam, Josie was awarded the Crufts Friends For Life Award at the DFS Crufts Dog Show in England. "It means so much to us to win this award," says Sara. "We would like to thank everyone who voted for Sam and Josie in the Friends for Life competition. Also a huge thank you to Dogs for the Disabled and the Kennel Club for making it all possible."

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club spokesperson, said: "We give our warmest congratulations to Sam and Josie, they are a truly lovely and deserving pair. They show just how much dogs can enrich our lives and the profound difference that they can make. Josie is not only a special dog himself but he represents all of the great work that is done every day by assistance dogs."