Is this Durham dog Britain’s kindest canine?
Tilly, the springer spaniel, has received an animal award from PDSA for helping owner Heather Purdy find happiness again after a string of tragedies.
The three-year-old pet helped Heather after the death of her daughter and a life-changing illness, that left her husband needing round-the-clock care.
She said: “Over the last few years, my husband was left severely disabled from a massive brain haemorrhage, my daughter died from cystic fibrosis and I also lost my mother, grandparents and a cousin.
“I could see myself staring into a black hole and feared, if I fell into it, that I would not be able to come out.”
Heather decided to throw herself back into her work as a business partner at HPPL Canine Security Services, which provides detection dogs to sniff out drugs and weapons at events, and training to dogs with behavioural problems.
Poised to return to work and in need of a new detection dog to work with her, Heather visited a local rescue centre where she came across a nine-month-old springer spaniel that would transform her life.
Heather added: “When Tilly and I became a team, we were both at the lowest points of our lives.
“We have helped each other and if it wasn’t for Tilly, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”