The Guide Dogs Annual Awards are just around the corner, with the event taking place on December 9th. Prepare for a host of waggy tails and grateful owners enjoying a night of fun, with awards given out to the most outstanding pooches.
Here we meet black lab Oscar, who has been nominated for the Guide Dog of the Year - Beyond the Call of Duty Award:
Oscar the guide dog was only two and a half years old when he was thrown into the deep-end of his guide dog duties.
He and his owner, Angela Millgate, 48, found themselves travelling back and forth from hospital when Angela’s husband Peter sadly, got diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012. In what’s an extremely difficult time for any family, Angela says that Oscar was a shining light. “He knew his way around the hospital and could even find Peter when he had moved beds overnight," she says. "He would just sit there quietly, sometimes up to 13 hours a day. He was so patient, and took it all in his stride."
Life for Angela and Oscar became harder still when Angela’s mum tragically developed terminal brain cancer in 2014. Oscar, however, was undeterred by the confusing hospital corridors and helped to not only bring comfort and strength to Angela, but to all the other patients in the wards - who would often come up to give him a hug!
Angela, from Solihull, and her husband Peter, both lived with sight loss. Angela has only a small amount of sight in her right eye and Peter had no sight at all. Oscar was Angela’s fifth guide dog and formed a strong relationship with Virgo, Peter’s guide dog. Sadly for Oscar, Virgo, was diagnosed with mouth cancer and had to be put down in May last year. Angela says that Oscar would look after Virgo when she was ill, going so far as to wait for her while she finished eating, and adapted to the fact that she was no longer well enough to play with him.
Oscar’s heroics were called into action again recently, when he helped Angela avoid serious injury after a careless van driver almost reversed into them while they were walking to her dad’s house. Oscar managed to pull Angela out the way of the vehicle, which she says would have almost certainly hit her if she’d been using a cane.
Angela says that she wouldn’t have got through this difficult time without Oscar and when her mum and husband died within four weeks of each other last year, her 'little shadow' was permanently by her side.
Despite the trauma, Angela and Oscar still find time to have fun and he recently went on a plane with her to visit family in Ireland. Here, at Angela’s Aunt’s request, Oscar was made an honorary ‘Irish’ dog and now walks around proudly wearing a shamrock on his collar.
Oscar’s a guide dog who has gone well beyond the call of duty, bringing comfort, confidence and joy, not only to Angela, but to many others as well. Angela says that she’s over the moon that they have been nominated. "It would mean so much, having gone through so much, for Oscar to be recognized for his achievements," she says.
- Find out more about the awards here
- For more real life stories (and cute animal pictures!) pick up the latest copy of Yours