Beautiful bond between a girl with cerebral palsy and a ‘hero’ dog who was nominated for the Kennel Club award

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Dogs are magical companions for anyone who has one in their family – but this bond is special. Ruby is a four-year-old golden retriever who brings joy to the life of a teenager with cerebral palsy.

And now Ruby is one of five dogs to be nominated for a special ‘hero’ award, the winner of which will be announced at Crufts 2022. Ruby provides essential support to 16-year-old Olivia Cunliffe in her daily life at Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

Ruby helps Olivia deal with the mental and physical challenges that come with her life. She is non-verbal and suffers from pain, anxiety and stress due to her condition, reports Yorkshire Live.

Olivia’s mum, Amanda, said: “It’s obviously hard as a parent to see your child in pain. Ruby would actually go on Olivia’s bed and crawl to where Olivia’s pain was. C was probably the only time she [Olivia] would actually settle down and feel a little more relaxed.

“Without Ruby, we would have had an even harder time seeing Olivia suffer the way she did. As soon as we had Ruby, she immediately went straight under Olivia’s wheelchair. In fact, when she was a puppy, she would actually be on Olivia’s lap in the wheelchair.”

Amanda said Ruby helps Olivia so much every day and gives her more confidence. She said that, without Ruby, there would be a “big hole” in Olivia’s life.



Ruby and Olivia

She added: “Olivia loves it, she loves the affection I think. With Ruby, she has a bond that can’t be broken, really.”

Due to the Covid pandemic, many of Olivia’s usual treatments have been pushed back and she has found herself in a lot of pain, which can worsen involuntary movements due to her cerebral palsy. Ruby helps calm these movements and is actively involved in Olivia’s physiotherapy, even though she is not a trained therapy dog.

Olivia’s father, Glyn, said Ruby helped the family move around, which they otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to do so often.

He said: “Thanks to Ruby we can get out in the fresh air and throw a few balls or go for a walk. It’s hard for her [Olivia] to interact in some way, but just finding small ways to engage her and play with Ruby is a great way to do that.”

Amanda added, “We’re not always able to do things that other families can do, but Ruby brings a lot to the family and she’s just made family life and Olivia’s life really complete, so to our eyes, she’s a heroine.”

Ruby’s incredible role in her family’s life is now recognized with a nomination for a prestigious award. Ruby was named one of five finalists for the Kennel Club Hero Dog Award. The award honors “unsung canine heroes” who change lives, celebrating the incredible relationship between humans and dogs.

Ruby is part of some very tough competition – with the overall winner to be announced at Crufts 2022. The winner of the Kennel Club Hero Dog Award will receive £5,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for the canine charity of their choice, with the other finalists receiving a donation of £1,000 to the canine association of their choice.

You can watch a video of Ruby and Olivia, and vote for Ruby in the award, on the Crufts website here.

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