Forget the New Year Honours, Bonnie the dog has been awarded the Blue Cross Medal

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An “inspirational” pooch has been awarded with a medal for hero animals after helping enrich the lives of hundreds of vulnerable people.

Bonnie, a 14-year-old whippet-staffie cross, received the honour for working as a pet therapy dog for animal charity Blue Cross for the last seven years.

The heroic hound has been credited with saving the life of a suicidal man as well as helping countless terrified children overcome their phobias of dogs.

She has also provided comfort to terminally ill adults and children during regular hospice visits and gone into schools as a reading dog.

Bonnie has now been given the Blue Cross Medal - a wartime accolade for animals which was only reinstated last year to mark the centenary of the World War One.

Her proud owner Vicky Burn, 60, said: “I’m really proud of Bonnie and all the good work she has done.

“She has spent the last seven years with us always trying her best and trying to please and is so very special.

“She is my best friend and the best work mate I could ever have, we have complete trust in one another and give each other confidence.

“She is an absolute angel and giving her a home is the best thing I have ever done.”

The judging panel for this year’s competition included pet-loving actress Caroline Quentin.

She said: “I truly believe that dogs are wonderful companions, not just during our lives but importantly at the end of a life too.

“They make such a difference for those facing death and for those left behind to deal with grief.

“Choosing a winner for the Blue Cross Medal wasn’t easy, but Bonnie’s story really shone through.

“It’s just incredible how many lives she’s touched - she’s a wonderful example of the happiness pets can bring us.”

Although Bonnie is now officially retired, she continues to help others, working on a one-to- one basis with severely dog-phobic children to help them overcome their fears.

She is also still on call in case she is needed for end-of-life visits at her local hospice, where staff describe her work as ‘inspirational’.

Blue Cross chief executive, Sally de la Bedoyere, added: “The Blue Cross Medal is for pets that have changed or saved a life, but Bonnie has gone way above and beyond by impacting hundreds of lives in such an amazing way.

“Staffies often get such bad press and we care for so many unwanted ones at our rehoming centres, so it’s even more fantastic that our winner this year is a staffie cross - a true ambassador for her breed.”