A HILLINGDON dog that works with retired actors after being saved from an horrific early life in a breeding programme is nominated for an award at Crufts 2014.

The Kennel Club’s Friends for Life competition has been running since 2006 and celebrates heart-warming stories of friendship in adversity, where dogs have truly earned the title of man’s best friend, through bravery, support or companionship.

Zoe, a chocolate Labrador born for nothing but to breed, was rescued by 24-year-old Cowley resident Linzi Follett, who recognised her desperate situation in a rescue centre at Christmas 2008.

Now the nine-year-old super pooch has passed her Pets at Therapy qualification and often visits Denville Hall Care Home in Northwood to cheer the retired actors.

Zoe still carries the scars of her breeding programme, including tie marks on her legs, misformed feet, saggy belly and arched back, but there is only one thing the Denville Hall residents see - and that's her sweet nature.

“She was just mentally shut down when I found her. It was like she just had no interest in life at all,” said High Road resident Linzi.

“The first time I saw her I knew I was going to take her. I couldn’t leave her there. She just reminded me more of what I had at home.

“She’s got a look that she does, and other people have commented on it. It’s her smile. She’s just thrilled with life, she can’t believe her luck.

“She’s an inspiration for others when they see her."

The Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, will announce a shortlist on February 18 of the five dogs that will go into the Friends for Life final.

The public will then vote for which of the five dogs has the most truly deserving tale.

The winner will be announced on Sunday, March 9, in the main arena alongside thousands of happy, healthy dogs at Birmingham’s NEC.

The trophy will be presented by Chris Amoo, dog lover and 70s pop star with the band The Real Thing.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club spokesperson, said: “Zoe’s story truly demonstrates how important dogs are to our lives and what a difference they make to us, both in our best times and when things are tough.

“Linzi and little Zoe are thoroughly deserving of this nomination. Each and every one of the finalists has helped to change and save lives in their own unique and special way.”