There are stories of friendship and bravery – and then there’s the incredible tale of PC Dave Wardell and police dog Finn.

In October 2016, German Shepherd Finn and handler Dave were pursuing an offender through the streets before he rounded on them, wielding a huge knife.

Brave Finn rushed towards him, but the offender relentlessly plunged the giant blade into his body, before turning his attention to Dave.

Bleeding profusely, Finn threw himself in front of the knife once more and Dave suffered only a minor gash and was able to overpower the offender before backup arrived shortly afterwards.

Finn was rushed to the vets and, even more remarkably, survived and made a full recovery following four hours of surgery, going back to work 11 weeks later.

Dave is still operating as a police officer in the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire dog unit, but while Finn is retired, they are still best friends.

And their astounding story of love and bravery has earned them the nod as Men’s Best Friend finalists in the Friends for Life competition.

“The guy was aiming for my head and neck – I was crouched over Finn at that time,” recalled Dave. “If he’d have made contact, I wouldn’t be here talking to you today.

“But because of Finn’s actions, he took the power out of the thrust and I ended up with only a minor stab wound to the hand. At that point, I’d seen the knife come out of Finn’s chest and suspected that he’d only have a few seconds to live, but he didn’t run off and look after himself, he stayed there with me and helped me disarm the offender and when backup arrived, I rushed him to the vet.

“He ended up having four hours of surgery. There was a heart-breaking moment, as if being stabbed and watching my best friend being stabbed wasn’t bad enough, when we were in the vet, he found the stab wound on my hand and started tending to my hand.

“He was effectively dying and struggling to breathe, and yet still looking out for me. And that showed just how special he was.

“But then when he came home from the vet, I was struggling terribly with bad flashbacks, bad dreams and PTSD but Finn went on to still look out for me and helped me though some really dark days.

“Not only did he save me during the incident but he kept on saving me throughout and that, to me, why he’s so very special.”

The story did not end there, however. Finn’s attacker was only charged with criminal damage, triggering a campaign, nicknamed ‘Finn’s Law,’ to be launched calling for legislation taking into account attacks on animals, which activists argue should not be categorised alongside inanimate objects.

“The public couldn’t understand why this amazing service animal who was protecting me, making arrests all the time and he was treated the same as your mobile phone or the pen in your pocket,” added Dave.

“He’s not an inanimate object, he’s a living, breathing being – he wasn’t being treated as such.

“We’re doing well so far, it’s in Parliament and it’s been quite a rocky road, but my MP Sir Oliver Heald has done an amazing job and we’re on the cusp of entering the House of Lords with that bill depending on how future events go.

“If what happened to Finn ends as legislation it means that all the suffering he went through won’t have been for nothing.”

The Kennel Club wants to celebrate and share the amazing stories of how dogs give back to us every day of our lives. The overall winner will be announced in the NEC arena at Crufts 2019. 
The winner will also be awarded £5,000 and the runners up will each receive – for their nominated canine charity – £1,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust – helping to make a difference for dogs. 

Dave has a busy household, with a wife, three daughters, six dogs a cat and a parrot all crammed into their house in Buntingford.

Now, he will go up against the other finalists at Crufts with the public voting for their ultimate Friend for Life, which will be announced on Channel 4.

And Dave admitted victory would be an incredible moment, although he knows the competition is stiff.

“Being at Crufts will be amazing – the chance to share his story with the national and the campaign that we’re running to bring in a law for these animals, if we could open that up to people, that will be sensational for us,” he said.

“If we were lucky enough to win, I think you’ll see more than a few tears, it will be a real honour to stand in the main arena of the biggest dog show in the world, and to win Friends for Life will absolutely be sensational.”