Daniel and Yogi - definitely best friends for life
The story of a brave 12-year-old boy and his dog who became his best friend certainly stole the show at this year’s Crufts. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the Newcastle duo, Daniel George and Yogi, were proclaimed winners of the 2006 ‘Friends for Life’ competition.
Daniel and Yogi were one of six finalists in the competition run at this year’s Crufts. The general public were asked to nominate their favourite story and Dogs for the Disabled partnership Daniel and Yogi emerged as clear leaders with 80% of the vote. When the pair were announced as winners, the crowds watching in the Crufts main ring got to their feet to give Daniel and Yogi a standing ovation, the first ever to receive such acclaim at Crufts.
A staggering 144,000 votes were cast for Daniel and Yogi after the general public fell in love with the chocolate Labrador who was trained by Banbury-based charity Dogs for the Disabled as part of their pioneering children’s project to help physically disabled children live life independently.
Daniel describes Yogi as a guardian angel sent to look after him and he certainly is a very special dog! Yogi is an assistance dog that has been trained to help with practical tasks such as opening and closing doors, taking Daniel’s socks off; turning off his bedroom light when it’s time to go to bed and even pulling his duvet over him if it falls off in the night.
The pair have been together for just eighteen months. Daniel, who has Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy, explains just what life was like before he had Yogi. “I used to feel like I was trapped in a box and unable to get out. Yogi is my best friend; I couldn’t imagine life without him. He’s there to help whenever I need him and makes me smile whenever I feel sad.”
Mary, Daniel’s mother, says Yogi has made a huge difference to the whole family: “Yogi is a very special dog, he’s given me Daniel back and given Daniel back to Daniel. He’s also become a rough-and-tumble mate for Daniel’s older brother and younger sister. Our house has laughter in it again.”
Peter Gorbing, Chief Executive of Dogs for the Disabled is delighted that Daniel and Yogi’s story inspired so many people. “Many thanks to everyone that voted for Daniel and Yogi in the ‘Friends for Life’ competition. It is an amazing partnership and shows just how incredibly powerful the bond can be between an assistance dog and a disabled adult or child. I very much hope that such a wonderful recognition of our work will help many more people benefit from the work of Dogs for the Disabled."