Dogs Monthly readers will remember Richard Mearns and assistance dog Ziggy, who wrote a regular column for us about their partnership – and we’re delighted to hear that the inspiring pair have been shortlisted as finalists in the 2022 Soldiering On Awards.

The Animal Partnership Award category honours the unique relationships and companionship provided by animals and/or the achievements of individuals or organisations engaged with animals that support and empower members of the Armed Forces community. The winner of this award will be chosen through a public vote.

Voting is open now and closes at 23:59 on Sunday 17th July. Only one vote per person. Vote online at

This award is generously sponsored by Pets at Home.

The three finalists are stand-out partnerships to celebrate:

  • Service Dogs UK (Hampshire, Sussex and Somerset)
  • Stable Lives (Wigan, Lancashire)
  • Richard Mearns and Assistance Dog Ziggy (London)

Richard and his assistance dog Ziggy are the finest example of what can be achieved by a veteran living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with the support of a great dog.

Richard holds down an important job, campaigns tirelessly for the rights of access for assistance dogs and still finds the time to support other veterans. He has become a trustee of yhe Assistance Dog Assessment Association, and is an ambassador for yhe Veterans Charity.

Richard was a panellist at a performance of Theatre of War. He has provided advice to veteran support charity Bravehound on assistance dog issues and has spoken about PTSD to the actors and producers at the National Theatre and delivered talks on his experiences.

Always ready to help others, Richard advocates for access rights for assistance dogs. He challenges access refusals and encourages a level of respect of the public. The impact of his and Ziggy’s work in raising public awareness around this issue is huge.

Most of all, Richard and Ziggy have achieved what we perhaps all aspire to – a good life, being an active member of society, being able to contribute, help others, and be happy.

Fiona MacDonald of Bravehound said, “Richard and Ziggy have infectious positivity and compassion for others, whether talking to an individual or addressing 2,000 people via a Zoom panel discussion.

“Richard has given a great deal of his time to advise us at Bravehound on best practice as a military charity providing assistance dogs and support to other veterans. The success of Bravehound is without doubt hugely due to the confidence we have in the advice we have been given and the example that is set by this extraordinary man and his incredible assistance dog.”


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