A search-and-rescue dog who locates survivors of humanitarian disasters and a canine who supports his young owner through hearing loss are among the candidates for a heroic dog award.

The Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, has revealed the four furry finalists nominated for its annual Hero Dog Award, which celebrates the unique relationship people have with man’s best friend.

Judges from the Kennel Club selected the finalists to go forward with the public vote, with the winner to be announced on the final day of Crufts on March 10 by the awards ambassador, Paralympian Libby Clegg.

The nominees include a golden retriever named Phoebe, who helps her 25-year-old owner and Team GB para-sailor Jazz Turner, and search-and-rescue dog Vesper, a Belgian Malinois-shepherd who is tasked with locating survivors of humanitarian incidents globally with her handler Niamh Darcy.

Great British Life: The finalists of the Crufts canine hero award for 2024The finalists of the Crufts canine hero award for 2024 (Image: James Manning/PA Wire)

Ms Turner said: “Phoebe is my lifeline, my best friend and she gives me an independence I wouldn’t otherwise have.”

A black Labrador named Gordon who supports his 12-year-old owner Elyana Kuhlemeier through hearing loss has also been shortlisted, as well as an Australian shepherd named Echo who has been by the side of her young owner Freya Harris through thick and thin.

Elyana’s mother Silvie said Gordon has provided her daughter with “support, comfort, and reassurance”.

She added: “Thanks to Gordon, she is positive and excited for the future, and doesn’t feel that her deafness will stop her from achieving what she wants to.

Great British Life: Crufts canine hero award golden retriever Phoebe with owner Jazz TurnerCrufts canine hero award golden retriever Phoebe with owner Jazz Turner (Image: James Manning/PA Wire)

“Every single day we see the bond between him and Elyana grow stronger.”

The award this year also honours a rescue husky named Balto as its Rescue Dog Hero 2024.

Balto died before the award concluded and will be specially recognised at Crufts for his heroic deeds, which included visiting care homes, hospitals, schools and mental health units as a therapy dog.

Bill Lambert, a spokesman for Crufts, said of Balto: “Even though he had a difficult start to life, he went from underdog to hero dog, alongside his owner, Sandra, and together they changed lives of humans and dogs alike.”

The winner and the finalists of the Crufts canine hero award will receive donations from The Kennel Club Charitable Trust for their nominated canine charity.

The final day of Crufts will be held in the Resorts World Arena at the Birmingham NEC and is also available to watch on Channel 4.

To find out more or place a vote, visit: crufts.org.uk/whats-on/the-kennel-club-hero-dog-award/