Super-staffie wins pet hero medal
From donating blood and visiting hospital wards to taking part in charity runs - ‘super-staffie’ Romeo’s amazing array of activities made him the top choice to win our Blue Cross Medal.
Five-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier cross Romeo impressed the judging panel with the huge range of good deeds he does to help both people and pets.
Not only is Romeo a qualified Pets as Therapy dog, visiting stroke patients or brightening the day for the residents of a local care home, he is also a regular canine blood donor for the Royal Veterinary College.
Romeo has donated without fail every three to four months for last two years, helping to save numerous doggie lives. And as if that weren’t enough, the hero hound even joins his owner Steph Hartley on runs, to help raise funds for charity.
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!"
Romeo's adoring family are thrilled he has touched hearts and won the award.
Romeo’s owner, Steph Hartley, 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.”
Steph first realised Romeo’s special qualities when she saw how calm and gentle he was with her 95-year-old grandmother.
Steph added: “Romeo became nan’s best friend and unofficial therapy dog. Watching them together that made me realise the qualities that Romeo has led me to look into how he could use them to make a difference.”
Children's best friend
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 wrote a letter to explain the huge impact Romeo has had on her life. She said: “I used to be very scared of dogs and would hide behind my mum if I met any as I walked along the street. My uncle has a dog called Romoe he is big with starey eyes.
"I went to the stables, saw him and hid. He found me and I screamed then he moved away. After a while he came back and stood looking at me. Romeo sniffed me then licked me.
"He was very quiet and gentle. We are now great friends, we walk together and play football and not forgetting tug of war. 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 we awarded a number of medals to honour horses which had served on the battlefields.