The guide dog of an inspirational Stags’ supporter has been nominated for an award at this year’s Crufts.
Nathan Edge, of Mansfield, has been lauded for his fundraising work after going blind almost overnight when he was 19.
But now his Labrador cross Golden Retriever guide dog Hudson is set to steal the limelight at the famous dog show later this year. Hudson has made the final in the Eukanuba Friends For Life competition at Crufts 2017 and Nathan said to win it would be the icing on the cake.
Nathan was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at the age of five with the inflammation spreading to the back of his eyes, resulting in the deterioration of his sight.
When he was 19, Nathan was introduced to Hudson before, just a few months later, he lost his sight completely overnight.
The change in circumstances understandably had a profound effect on Nathan but the now 22-year-old was brought through the toughest times by having Hudson by his side throughout.
“I lost my sight. I woke up over the weekend with darkness. I was 19 at the time and it was a lot to deal with,” said Nathan, a lifelong Stags’ supporter.
“I had never really had a dog before. I did not understand the bond that you can have. Hudson dragged me out of the darkest times.
“I was in a dark place. I did not want to be here but he pulled me through. I owe him so much.
“He’s such a loving animal. He can give you such a giggle. As a guide dog it’s so important to have that good bond. He has opened up my life.”
Nathan’s bond with Hudson has now been recognised after the latter was nominated for the Giving Longevity Through Assistance category of this year’s Eukanuba Friends for Life competition at the world’s largest dog show.
The competition celebrates heart-warming stories of friendship in adversity, where dogs have truly earned the title of man’s best friend, through bravery, support or companionship.
As well as helping him with day-today activities, Hudson has also helped boost Nathan’s confidence with the latter now training with the England blind football team.
He has in turn raised thousands of pounds for Guide Dogs as a thank you for bringing Hudson into his life.
“Hudson helps me with getting us out and about.
“Before I had him I would not get a taxi but we’ve been all over London,” he added. “I’m also part of the England Development Blind football team. I would not have done that without the confidence Hudson gave me.
“To make the final would be great. It’s what Hudson deserves and it’s a reward for him for all that he has given me and how he has changed my life.”
Nathan and Hudson met with Stags’ boss Steve Evans last week, who said: “Following our meet-up I read that Nathan had said that it was great to meet with me, but the honour was truly all mine to meet with Nathan and his trusty Golden Retriever, Hudson.
“We wish Nathan and Hudson every piece of luck and success in Crufts and the England Development Blind football team.
“He goes with our best wishes and as I have re-iterated to both Nathan and his dad, if there is anything we can do at the Stags, we will do.
“I am sure Nathan’s parents are very proud of him,” he added.
Stags’ fans can help Nathan and Hudson in the prestigious Crufts competition by voting for the duo.