Welwyn Garden City life-saving Staffie scoops Blue Cross Medal
PUBLISHED: 09:18 12 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:15 12 January 2017
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A Welwyn Garden City dog has won the Blue Cross Medal after saving the lives of many other canines.
Five-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier cross Romeo impressed the panel of judges, by being a qualified Pets as Therapy dog, visiting stroke patients and residents in care homes, and for regularly donating blood to the Royal Veterinary College to save numerous doggie lives.
Romeo’s owner, Steph Hartley, of Creswick Court, said: “I’m so proud of Romeo, he’s such a special and kind dog – it just seems to be built into him to take care of people. He adores people and exercise, so he really enjoys all the things we do together, from visiting hospitals to going on runs and doing agility together – he’s a real ambassador for his breed.”
TV presenter Chris Packham, one of the judges on the medal panel, said: “Romeo sounds like an amazing dog and he is a really deserving winner of the Blue Cross medal.
“Staffies sadly do suffer from a bad reputation and Romeo completely transforms the stereotype for this lovely breed with all the incredible ways he helps out people and other dogs. He even gives blood - what a dog.”
Steph first realised Romeo’s special qualities when she saw how calm and gentle he was with her 95-year-old grandmother.
Steph said: “Romeo became nan’s best friend and unofficial therapy dog. Watching them together that made me realise the qualities that Romeo has and led me to look into how he could use them to make a difference.”
Romeo also helped the niece and nephew of Steph’s partner to overcome their fear of dogs. In fact, Romeo was such a hit with Mimi and Sidney that they even persuaded their mum to get them a dog of their own.
Mimi said: “I used to be very scared of dogs and would hide behind my mum if I met any. When I first met Romeo I screamed and he moved away. After a while he came back and sniffed me, then licked me. He was very quiet and gentle and we are now great friends – we walk together and play football and I am no longer scared of him or any other dogs.”
The Blue Cross Medal was reinstated in 2014 to mark the centenary of the First World War, when the charity awarded a number of medals to honour horses which had served in the war.
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