Miracle and Kyle Leask

Miracle, a rescue dog who was to be slaughtered for meat but who is now changing the life of a local six-year-old boy with cerebral palsy won the hearts are this year’s Friends for Life.

The British public voted Miracle and Kyle Leask the most deserving winners out of five shortlisted finalists, and the proud pair took centre stage at Crufts on Sunday when they appeared together in the Arena before a packed audience, when the presentation was broadcast live on Channel 4. They were also given a cheque for £1,500 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for their chosen charity.

The three other Friends for Life finalists were Claire Pearson and Pal, Katie Evans and Folly, and Julie Cashell and Ellie May.

Miracle, a crossbreed now living in Strathglass, Inverness, was set to become another victim of the illegal dog meat trade in Thailand when he was spotted hanging from a lorry while being transported with 1,000 other dogs. He was rescued and brought back to the UK, and now helps campaign against the trade alongside his owner, Kyle’s mother Amanda. Kyle has cerebral palsy and autism, and she credits the special bond they now share to the fact that they have both struggled in life.

Speaking about their win Mrs Leask said: “I feel absolutely ecstatic. It’s an unbelievable feeling and I’m slightly numb.

“It was quite an experience in the main arena. I tried not to focus on the crowd – I was holding back tears. It was incredibly emotional and when we were announced the winner I didn’t know who to kiss first.

Act of fate

“I believe in fate, and it feels like we saved Miracle’s life and he’s saved ours

“It’s hard to describe the impact he’s made to our lives. When Miracle was found everyone thought he was dead, and it’s amazing that he’s here now; he’s such a special guy.

“I’ve had a very tough past six years, my son Kyle is autistic and suffers from cerebral palsy, and it’s been touch and go, and Miracle has been such an emotional support and they have a great connection.”

Jose Luis Ibanez from Eukanuba, said: “Miracle’s story is so moving and so remarkable and the bond that he shares with Kyle is such a special one. We are so pleased to be part of a competition that celebrates how loyal and loving man’s best friend truly is.”

KC secretary Caroline Kisko said: “We congratulate Amanda and Miracle on winning this year’s award. Their story is so incredibly moving and highlights what wonderfully loyal and great companions our four-legged friends can be. Each of the dogs in the final has helped to change and improve the quality of their owner’s life, showing unwavering loyalty to their owners, and they are a great example of the incredible difference that dogs can make to people’s lives.”