My Cockapoo Amber has helped me to stay positive through the toughest times of my life. She came into our family when I was 16 and first started experiencing symptoms of my illness. She was only eight weeks old and quickly became my best friend, as I had to leave school and my life as I knew it began to fall apart.
It was almost two years later I was diagnosed with a life-limiting illness that left me housebound, in constant pain and extremely weak. At my lowest, Amber was the only thing that kept me going and the only thing that would make me smile. Whenever I got upset she would lick my tears away and stay by my side and when I was really unwell, she would scratch and cry at my door or do whatever she could to be with me. She was a constant source of comfort and made me feel so safe and less lonely.
She would lick away my tears
When nurses would come to visit me at home, they would always comment that Amber was always so close to me but she also instinctively knew when she needed to give me and the nurses space (although she was never too far away). They would often tell me that they’d always say they we’re going to see ‘Ellie and Amber’ because she never left my side. I’d spend months in hospital, and she would come and visit me. Having a cuddle and seeing her happy face was a massive boost. My heart would feel lighter whenever she would visit.
Without Amber I wouldn’t be here today. Last year I had surgery that thankfully gave me a second chance at life. I only got to that point because I wanted so desperately to take her for long walks or play with her in the garden again, she’s mad about tennis balls and loves to play fetch. The idea of giving her a happy life and repaying her for all the years of happiness she gave me when I needed it most kept me going. She still supports me when I have bad days but now I take advantage of every opportunity I can to be with her and do something fun.
I honestly don’t think words can really describe just how much I love her and what she means to me, but when I was a little girl I would dream about having a dog like her and I feel so lucky to have her in my life.
Diesel is the best dog ever. A few years back, I was really suffering with depression. On one particularly bad day I was in the house on my own feeling very low, and he noticed this and would not leave my side. He has always picked up when I don't feel well physically or mentally, and will never leave my side. It’s like he has to keep an eye on me!
He loves everyone he meets, always throwing himself on the floor at people’s feet. Whenever we go out he always has to have two tennis balls, as he won’t give the ball back unless he has another one to hold!
Will never leave my side
He knows his toys by the name, of "MyMine", which was started when he was a puppy and has just stuck. As soon as we say ‘go get your "MyMine"’ he will run off and come back with something, but it won't always be a toy – sometimes he’ll run off and then come back all excited with nothing in his mouth at all, just what looks like a huge grin!
Our neighbours will often give him a biscuit over the fence, and as soon as he hears them outside, he climbs into one of the flowerpots to make himself taller to make sure they see him. He is caring, loving and a bundle of fun, and everyone that meets him loves him.
Just as my parents before me, we finally succumbed to my daughter’s persistent requests to get a puppy. A few months later we arrived home with Teddy, a 12-week-old Golden Retriever. I’ll admit, before Teddy I never would have classed myself as a dog-fanatic – but oh how my opinion has changed!
I'm 51 and have suffered with severe anxiety all my life, but Teddy’s smiling face and unconditional love have uplifted me beyond belief. I had could never have imagined the positive impact he’d have on my wellbeing, but he really has had a hugely profound impact on all of our lives.
Uplifted me beyond belief
Because of my anxiety, I tend to wake up very early every morning, which can be frustrating. But now that I have Teddy I’ve started using that time to get out for a walk in the woods, which always helps me to start the day in a better mood. Watching him bound around and explore with such energy and relentless enthusiasm just makes me so happy. He’s always so determined to catch a bird, but hasn’t yet grasped the fact that he can’t fly!
Before Teddy, I never truly understood what it meant when people referred to dogs as ‘man’s best friend’ – but now, I couldn’t be without him. Just looking at his smiling face fills me with joy and makes me feel optimistic about the day ahead.
Daisy is a Jack Russell and a total bundle of joy. She makes me laugh out loud many times a day. Her favourite trick is early in the morning – as soon as she knows we are awake she sneaks out of her bed searching for socks to steal. She then rushes outside and takes the socks for a tour of the garden. She then comes in and sits by the cupboard where her treats are waiting for an exchange!
She makes me laugh out loud many times a day
Beside socks she steals pencils, letters and we have to warn workmen that she will steal tools. In the evening she climbs on my knee so she can be nursed like a baby.
Daisy loves Tasha, our 17-year-old cat, and is always following her round the garden, and if she’s not on my knee she’s next to Tasha on the settee. I’m truly blessed to have a lovely little dog called Daisy.
Woody is a dog in a million. I’ve had him ever since he was a pup. When I visited the Dog’s Trust centre, I chose him because he was the only one to approach me and with head held high. I thought to myself – he's got gumption and he likes me!
His head held high
It was hard work at first, because he chewed everything in sight, including my furniture – but he was so worth it. I took him to training classes and he did well, but at the formal assessment, he took off around the room when he was told to stay. He ran round and around at full pelt, chairs a-rattling, while all looked on – even the judges laughed!
My gorgeous dog began to have awful seizures a few months ago, including cluster fits. I was so scared for him but his enormous strength of character and resilience carries him – and me – through. I'm so proud of him, and could not love him more. And he still holds his head high!
Rescued from Romania, where she was attacked as a tiny pup, Lena just lights up my life every minute. Left with facial deformities, she is my little snorting hyena.
She is my little snorting hyena
Seeing how far she has come in the (almost) two years since I adopted her gives me such a sense of happiness. She has given me a purpose and something to care for when, at times, I can feel like I am not worth much. Filled with so much sassiness and energy, she is (in my eyes) the best, purest gremlin ever.