A DOG who has helped her young owner get through two years of ill health has won a ‘hero’ award from a national charity.

Four-year-old cockapoo Millie has been a constant support for Annabel Willis, 10, who has been in and out of hospital receiving treatment for chronic kidney disease.

Now Millie’s dedication has been rewarded with third place in the national Blue Cross hero awards.

Annabel, who lives in Guiseley and goes to Tranmere Park Primary School, was diagnosed with kidney disease two years ago. But her close bond with the family pet has helped her to cope.

Millie was nominated for the medal by Annabel’s sister Lauren Willis and her mum Nina.

Lauren, 21, a student at Royal Holloway, said: “Millie has become Annabel’s rock. She recognises when Annabel is upset, and will sit with her, silently offering her support. Millie is there for Annabel when she has to take time off school and be away from her friends.

“Sometimes, Annabel goes to stay with her grandparents, yet Millie will always go with her; they are inseparable. For Annabel, home is wherever Millie is. She is sometimes the only thing that can make Annabel smile, and I am so grateful for this.”

She said chronic kidney disease was suddenly diagnosed when Annabel was eight years old and she had to have surgery quickly to prevent any further damage to her kidneys.

“She has lots of checks for her kidneys,” she said. “I’d say she’s in hospital about once a month on average. She has had a lot of unpleasant and upsetting procedures to go through.”

Lauren added: “For Annabel, it’s lovely that the dog she dotes on so much has now been recognised by a national charity. Blue Cross are sending Millie through a certificate which we are going to hang above her bed.

“Of course the dog has no idea what she’s achieved, and we find it quite funny to tell her that she’s become a national hero. However, I think it’s lovely that the support of dogs such as Millie - and the winner of the award this year, Lemmy - is recognised like it is by Blue Cross. “Animals are able to provide a kind of support that nobody else can, and in my opinion, I don’t think Annabel could have been as brave as she has been without Millie.”

The charity described Millie as “a shining example of how a pet can be the perfect best friend for children.”

Visit https://www.bluecross.org.uk/story/pet-hero-medal-winner-saved-owner-s-life to find out more about the awards.