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A hero dog has been more than just a furry friend for a disabled girl, who has credited it with transforming her life.

Bubbly 12-year-old Lottie Wilcocks said that she doesn’t know what she would have done without Velvet, who was nominated as the only northern dog in the Crufts public vote award for heroic dogs.

The black labrador has been giving Lottie, who has spina bifida and hydrocephalus, a crucial helping paw since joining the family in 2010, thanks to the Dogs for Disabled Scheme.

Before then Lottie, who uses a wheelchair, suffered many broken legs as a result of trying to reach for items herself.

Not only does Velvet help her carry out her daily tasks, but she has also given her a much-needed confidence boost, as well as giving Lottie’s parents peace of mind at work.

Lottie, who lives in Elland Road in Ripponden, said that she underestimated the difference her new pal would make and that having a dog has been invaluable to being able to live independently.

Velvet was named one of the runners up at Crufts last weekend, which this year celebrated its 123rd event.

The Ryburn Valley High School pupil, said: “Having Velvet has made such a massive difference.

“She’s there to greet me when I come home from school and her presence makes me feel safe.

“She helps me with all the things I can’t do on my own, such as take off my coat and picking things up.

“If I tried to do that myself there’d be a risk that my wheelchair would end up on top of me.

Lottie Wilcocks, 12, with dog Velvet
Lottie Wilcocks, 12, with dog Velvet
 

“She’s also really intuitive so when I’m stressed she will give me a cuddle.

“It doesn’t matter that she didn’t win the competition, it’s the changes she has made to my life that count.”

Together the pair go on daily walks through the village, which Lottie said has given her a new outlook.

She said: “She gives me a reason to go out.

“Before I got Velvet I used to think that people were looking at me because I was in a wheelchair but now I just think that they’re looking at her.

“I can’t ever imagine a time when I won’t have a dog like her to help me,”

She is now training to take part in the Virgin Money Giving Mini Marathon on April 13 in aid of Dogs for the Disabled.

Lottie’s mum, Tracey, said: “We know that Velvet is just a dog but she has given Lottie a positive focus on what she can do rather than what she can’t and that anything is possible.”

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