Wonder dog George the Spaniel has received the pooch equivalent of an OBE after helping to rescue his disabled owner.
Anita Castellina, 62, was in real trouble when her mobility scooter overturned and she was trapped in a ditch of freezing water.
My scooter was on top of me and I couldn’t move, my handbag was underneath me with my mobile in it
But six-year-old George helped to save her and has now received the prestigious PDSA Commendation for animal devotion, for animals who have saved or enriched the lives of their companions.
Last winter Anita was walking her assistance dog George along Cleveleys promenade. Two youths on skateboards came towards her and she swerved to avoid them, causing her to fall from her mobility scooter.
Anita said: “My scooter was on top of me and I couldn’t move, my handbag was underneath me with my mobile in it. I panicked as I had no way of contacting my husband and it was very cold.”
George was lying beside Anita, nudging her and licking her face to check she was all right. She then signalled George to fetch help, as she had been taught while training with charity Dog Assistance in Disability (Dog AID).
After returning a couple of times to check up on her, George eventually returned with an elderly man who was also walking his dog.
“I heard a man say ‘it’s allright boy, I’m following you, what do you want to show me?’” said Anita.
“How this wonderful stranger found the strength to lift my scooter off me I don’t know, but he did – all this time George was lying beside me and trying to keep me warm. My husband, who had come looking for me, then helped me to get dry and warm in the car.
“Unfortunately I never had the chance to thank the stranger, but I owe my life to George. I knew he was special from the moment I held him as an eight-week old puppy, so I am delighted for him to get such a commendation.”
Both Anita and her husband Larry, from Anchorsholme, are disabled and each have an assistance dog trained with Dog Assistance in Disability (Dog AID), a charity formed in the 1990 which helps people with disabilities train their pet dog to assistance dog level. As well as life saving skills, these dogs help them on a daily basis to pick up dropped items, take off items of clothing, fetch medication and open doors.