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11th Apr 2014

Meet the Golden Paw Nominees – Ireland’s Hero Dogs Are Up for an Award

These amazing pooches have truly proved themselves as Man's Best Friend.

Man, woman and child’s best friend.

The Irish Kennel Club this week launched the inaugural Golden Paw Hero Dog Awards in association with GAIN Pet Food to find Irelands most courageous, brave and life changing canines.

The awards are open to any dog deemed to have performed an exemplary act or series of acts that has significantly benefited a community or individual, and we’ve had our heartstrings pulled by three of the entries so far. Check out the stories of Toby, Sasha, Buttons and Coco below, all as told in their original entries.




Michelle o Neill, is 27 years old and lives in Kilkenny with Toby a 5 years old  mix between a Jack Russell and a west highland Terrier. Michelle rescued him from a halting sight in Kilkenny! He was so small and weak she had to bottle feed him. Michelle brought him to her local vet and was told that Toby was full of worms, fleas and ticks and that she wasn’t to get attached to him as he was so weak and at any moment a worm could wrap around his heart. Already Michelle loved this tiny thing and she was willing to do and pay anything to save him. He got better and then a month later his hair started to fall out, he had a skin rash and for 2 weeks Toby had to be washed every day to make sure he was nice, warm and clean. When he turned one,  Michelle noticed he had a lump on his right paw and it kept growing so she brought him back to my vet,  it had to be removed straight away in case of cancer! He had surgery and in the end he was ok. Then For the past few years Michelle noticed she was always sad and crying and no matter what she did she never felt right! Every time she would get upset Toby would know and always come to my rescue! If Michelle was crying he would curl up in her lap and lick her face to wipe away her tears. Last year was a very hard year for Michelle and she didn’t want get out of bed or even leave the house, and she constantly felt sad and couldn’t shift that feeling. Michelle didn’t know what was wrong so I decided to go to the doctor where she was diagnosed bipolar depressed! It hit her hard and when she went home Toby was standing at the front door waiting for her. His ears down and tail between his legs! He knew Michelle was sad and that something was wrong! She looked at her gorgeous dog and smiled, his tail started to move a bit, Michelle then walked over to him and sat down in front of him, she then looked into his eyes and at that moment she realised that this little thing loved her so much and when she hurt he hurt too because he loved her so much! It’s now a year later and Michelle is still on her tablets and is doing great. Toby is always wagging his little tail and every night he gets in to bed with Michelle to check on her and see if she is ok! Michelle may of saved him at 4 weeks old at a halting sight but in the end he saved her! They were meant to meet each other and she  honestly couldn’t ask for a more amazing dog than Toby! [SIC]




Sasha is a four year old female collie and is owned by Tricia has two children who are special needs and needs lots of care. Sasha has been nominated by the staff of Cherrywood Vet Clinic in Dublin. The staff seeing Sasha in action know she is a great help at home as she has been to their practice and it is clear to see she is the centre of their universe. She is a calm, loving, patient dog who certainly does her bit for society. Not only is Sasha a wonder dog at home with the boys but she also visits Beechfield Nursing Home in Shankill, Co. Dublin EVERY Wednesday, in association with Irish Therapy Dogs. Sasha is a beautiful collie girl who never fails to bring a smile to people’s faces and loves to make people smile at the nursing home. She brings so much joy to so many people both at home and outside. She is an absolute treasure to her family and her community and we think she would be a fantastic candidate for the Golden Paw award.

Of all our clients here at the clinic, Sasha stands out to us as the perfect nominee due to the amount she does for people. She is so kind with people who are very ill, gentle with the very elderly and so loving with people who often have no family left and see Sasha as their only visitor. [SIC]


Buttons & Coco

Buttons & Coco 3

Colleen Creedon is a BSc graduate from UCC, working in a multinational pharmaceutical company. During her education Colleen has learned so much but nothing compared to what she has learned in recent years thanks to her dogs Buttons & Coco. A few years ago Colleen was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and throughout her recovery Buttons and Coco stayed by her side day in and out. While her husband was at work Buttons and Coco would  lay next to her on the couch or in bed and only ever left to go outside to pee. Buttons always lay around her shoulders and Coco on her lap. It’s sounds surreal but feeling the relaxed pulse on her skin really relaxed Colleen – so incredible, almost like a spell!

To this day, her beautiful pupsters never leave her side when she is on the couch, after work or in the evenings. These 2 dogs have been her guardian angels. Colleen feels their calming and relaxing influence on her was one of the main influences in her fight against cancer and more importantly how she has beat it and kept it away. Buttons and Coco have, without doubt been such a comfort to Colleen and she believe, it is so important for people to realise what a comfort and calming influence that dogs can have over sick people. Colleen would go do far as to say, they were lifesavers in her experience! [SIC]


Anyone, including a dog’s owner or handler, may submit a nomination. Submissions for the IKC Golden Paw Hero Dog Awards 2014 in association with GAIN Pet Food must include:

  • A non-returnable, original photograph of the dog
  • A 500 word (or less) description of how the dog has demonstrated excellence
  • The dog’s call name, registered name (if applicable), breed, age and sex
  • Owner/nominator name(s), address, phone number and email (if available)
  • Nominations may be submitted for both pedigree and non-pedigree dogs.

Nominations are now being accepted and should be emailed to: [email protected]  or posted to:

The Irish Kennel Club, Fottrell House, Harold’s Cross Bridge, Dublin 6W.