A dog called Stormzy has been presented the first Hero Dog Award by Guide Dogs at its annual People Awards.
Stormzy, a buddy dog, was nominated for being the ‘best life changer’ to 16-year-old Josselin from Wiltshire. Since they were partnered last year, the yellow Labrador x golden retriever has been by her side, travelling to different places, making hundreds of friends and accompanying Josselin to hospital appointments.
Josselin, who uses a powerchair, has been blind and deaf since birth and needs 24-hour care due to a rare condition called Charge syndrome. After having over 30 operations, Josselin often gets anxious of hospitals but having Stormzy by her side has a calming effect on her while she is at hospital.
While buddy dogs are not used for sighted assistance like guide dogs, they bring a new friend into the lives of children with sight loss and can help to develop their self-confidence, improve relationships, and build a greater sense of trust.
Josselin and Stormzy’s partnership was even noticed by the children’s hospice they attend, and they were asked to be the stars of their Christmas appeal, helping them to raise more than £50,000 for children with life-limiting conditions.
“He is much more than a dog to us, he is truly a special soul,” said Josselin’s mum Karen.
“He brightens somebody’s day every single day. Stormzy walks Josselin out to the school bus in the morning and is there to greet her from the bus in the afternoon. He is the best life changer anybody could ever wish for.”
Pictured: Stormzy joined Josselin and Karen on stage to receive his Hero Dog Award from BBC Breakfast presenter Jon Kay.