'Guardian angel' Labrador in running for dog hero prize at Crufts

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A Labrador Retriever which is an autistic boy's "guardian angel" is among those competing for Crufts' dog hero prize on Sunday.

Caddie is one of four dogs up for the award, which will be announced ahead of the top prize, the Best in Show.

An American Cocker Spaniel named Afterglow Miami Ink is vying for the final prize at the world's largest dog show after winning the Best in Gundog Group a day earlier. 

Co-owner Jason Lynn said: "It was a really special show, so it was a really special win."

Caddie is an assistance dog to 13-year-old Joel Sawyer who lives with autism and sleep apnoea.

After being given to Joel, of Newquay, Cornwall, by charity Dogs for Good, Caddie has become a close companion and helps him cope with stress and offers support.

Caddie is a finalist in the Giving the Best Start in Life competition, which is Crufts' dog hero contest.

Guide dog Hudson, also a Labrador Retriever, Bull Terrier Bowser and military dog Charlie round out the category's contenders.

More than 21,000 dogs have taken part in the 2017 Eukanuba Friends for Life event, with the most popular entry being Labrador Retrievers.

Around 160,000 dog owners and lovers are expected to pack the Birmingham NEC arena over the four-day competition.

The hotly-anticipated Best in Show category will close the contest, which has seen entries from 56 countries.

Now in its 126th year, the competition has hosted hundreds of cross-breeds that are ranked by their agility, obedience and heelwork to music ability, among other skills.