Lovely dog Pluto who saved Harrogate family from falling apart wins national award
Maria Cartwright, 46, a palliative nurse from Harrogate, adopted Pluto as a puppy into her family a year after her husband, Alan, was hit by a car while cycling to work in 2014.
The serious accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury, a leg fractured in several places, loss of vision from his left eye and epilepsy.
Eight years on, Maria is still caring for her husband at home with the help of the incredible Pluto.
And Pluto and Maria’s story has now won hearts at healthy pet food company Vet’s Kitchen from all of the entries into their Woof and Well award.
“After nine months in hospital we brought Alan home for rehabilitation, but the man we brought home was totally different to the man who had left for work that morning,” said Maria.
“Not only did we have to deal with Alan’s physical needs, it was the psychological impact on all of us that was such a challenge.
"We needed something to give us a positive focus and a new way forward to try to unite us as a family again.
“Pluto has been so wonderful. He has saved our family from falling apart.”
Aged seven, Maria's lovely black Labrador has never been trained as a service dog but he naturally fulfils this role perfectly, being completely attuned to the needs of his family.
He is listening ear for Maria as Alan’s carer, providing endless support when she feels overwhelmed.
Another skill he naturally learnt was to walk slowly alongside Alan, keeping close to his side.
Maria said: “Pluto immediately gave love to us all especially to our two teenage children.
"He was their safe space, allowing them to cuddle him and cry and tell him how they were feeling.
"He helped bring a sense of calm and joy when they had felt so sad and company when they felt so isolated.”
“Alan doesn’t go far but Pluto walks like a dressage horse - so attentive and carefully,” added Maria.
“Occasionally Alan has fallen and Pluto has stayed by his side.
"He encourages Alan to go for a walk and without him, Alan would stay at home completely.”
Maria continued: “Pluto is such a lovely dog. The endless walks have also been my haven, giving me purpose to wake up to a brighter day.”
The Woof and Well Award was launched by Vet’s Kitchen in recognition of the contribution dogs have made to our health and wellbeing.
This year, the award focused on dogs who have made a special impact on their family’s happiness.
“We thought it was time to give our dogs recognition for their love and loyalty” said Laura Shears, MD of Vet’s Kitchen.
“Humans and their canine companions have always made for a winning team.
"More than ever, we lean on them for emotional support and they never fail us.
"Pluto is a worthy winner, showing us that a dog, even in their senior years, can hold a family together and provide hope."
Vet’s Kitchen foods combine the expertise of their in-house veterinary team, the latest nutritional research and the highest quality ingredients.
For more information, visit www.vetskitchen.co.uk