A TEAM of life changing Leicester dogs have been named as finalists at the annual Kennel Club Hero Dog Award’s.
Pete Lewin, from Leicester, runs a non-profit organisation working with his Newfoundland dogs for suicide prevention.
His five-strong team of Newfoundlands, which include Bob and Storm (pictured) provide support for staff from front-line emergency services and military veterans, and those struggling with their mental health.
Pete, who himself is a long-standing front-line paramedic for the East Midlands Ambulance Service, has worked with water dogs as a hobby for around 25 years. Both his own experiences and feedback from others about the positive effects of swimming in open water with Newfoundlands, who are natural water rescue dogs, made him realise the potential for a unique experience to support people with mental health needs.
“We get a lot of people coming with a lot of different emotions anxiety, depression, but then we get them into the wet gear and the safety gear that just starts to fade away, and then they start swimming with the dogs and it’s just amazing to see the big smiles on their faces,” he told Pukaar News.
“These dogs really are life-savers. One guy came to us after he took an overdose. Before swimming with the dogs, he was suicidal, and now he works for the ambulance service. Whatever it is that the dogs have got, it is helping people,” he revealed.
“They just give that love and attention and people just want to be with them. It’s just amazing. If we’ve saved one life, not physically but mentally, this is just an amazing achievement for us all.”
The annual Kennel Club Hero Dog Award celebrates the unique relationship people have with their dogs, the important role man’s best friend plays throughout our lives and the support they give us in the face of adversity.
Judges from The Kennel Club, the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, selected Pete’s dogs among four other inspiring canine finalists to go forward for the public vote.
“It’s such an achievement for not just me, but the whole team and for the breed itself,” said Peter.
“They’re well known worldwide for the real rescue work, in Italy and places like that, but nobody is doing what we’re doing with them, this emotional support.”
“All dogs are special and I’m not going to say they’re not because everybody’s dog is special to them, but I’ve got five amazing working dogs,” he added.
“They’re very hard work, they’re not an easy breed to have but I wouldn’t be without them.”