A loyal Spaniel has become the fourth dog to receive an animal OBE – the prestigious PDSA Order of Merit – for outstanding devotion to her disabled owner.
The working Cocker Spaniel, Molly, was honoured by the veterinary charity after being nominated by her twenty-three year old owner Lucy Watts MBE. The award acknowledges the tremendous impact Molly has on Lucy’s life and the unique bond they share.
Lucy suffers with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which, coupled with other health complications, can leave her feeling withdrawn, isolated and unhappy. Lucy’s condition is classed as life-limiting. Prior to Molly’s arrival in her life, she had been struggling to cope with the chronic pain and was bed-bound due to complications.
Molly joined the Watts household as an eight-week-old puppy and immediately lifted Lucy’s spirits. She said: “Molly helped give me something to focus on. Puppies bring so much joy anyway but Molly was like a ray of light for me. She gave me the motivation to get up and out of bed again.”
Before Molly, Lucy recalls that she often felt ignored when out in public. Now, taking Molly out gives her greater confidence to interact with people and she feels they see past her wheelchair.
Molly has now been trained as an assistance dog so she can help Lucy with everyday tasks which would otherwise be impossible and also protects Lucy, warning her if her temperature spikes and when her blood pressure drops, allowing her to lie her wheelchair down to prevent a collapse.
Lucy continued: “Molly is the best companion I could ask for. She seems to instinctively know if I’m in pain or not. She never tries to jump up for a cuddle if I’m uncomfortable.”
“I’m absolutely thrilled she has been awarded the PDSA Order of Merit. She was never intended as an assistance dog but her devotion to me and her training has never wavered. I would be lost without her.”
The confidence Molly gave Lucy led to her working with charities as an Ambassador and Trustee, which included giving speeches and writing blogs. For this work Lucy was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours.