SHE brings special meaning to the phrase “man’s best friend”.
Labrador cross Golden Retriever Erica helps her elderly Huddersfield owner with everything from getting around outside to alerting her to everyday sounds in her home.
Now the dedicated pooch is vying for the title of top dog after being nominated for a prestigious award.
The eight-year-old could be on course to land the accolade at the star-studded Hearing Dogs Awards, to be held in London in October.
And no one is happier than her owner Prayer Beaumont, from Netherton, who was partnered with Erica in 2005.
Erica is a dual-purpose hearing dog, which means she was trained to support people with both hearing loss and an additional disability.
Prayer, now 69, began to lose her sight in her right eye at the age of 19 and then her left eye in her late 20s. She was finally registered blind at the age of 40 and is now also severely deaf.
Before Erica she had two other dogs and although they helped her with getting around, she felt she needed more help with her dual sensory loss.
Erica now helps Prayer both with her mobility outside and around her home.
These include the sounds of the telephone, smoke alarm, doorbell and alarm clock.
Prayer said she has pleased her pet has been shortlisted for an award for her life-changing work.
She said: “Over the past year, I have suffered a couple of strokes and Erica has become more than just a hearing dog to me.
“She is one of the reasons I get up in the morning.
“Erica motivates me to get up and get on with life – she makes me extremely happy and I am so pleased she is mine.”
The awards is a national competition coordinated by national charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
A celebrity judging panel, including BBC One Show presenter Matt Baker and Eastenders actress Pam St Clement, will later this month choose the national finalists.
The charity trains dogs to alert deaf people to specific sounds and danger signals, whether in the home, workplace or in public buildings.
Since its launch in 1982 it has trained over 1,600 hearing dogs.
Erica is one of 750 hearing dogs currently in operation across the UK, bringing independence, confidence and security to deaf people.
She was initially trained to be a guide dog, but was quickly identified as having the potential to become a dual purpose dog.