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Special spaniel is Clunes’s champion
An ill-treated rescue dog brought back to life by the love of a young woman has repaid her kindness by saving her life several times.
The story of Henry the English springer spaniel so impressed Martin Clunes, that he picked him as the first winner of the Buckham Fair Rescue Dog Championship.
Henry was adopted four years ago by Julie Barrett, 32, after he was found in a dreadful state, having been abandoned and left alone in a house for several weeks before being taken on by the Dogs4Adoption charity.
Henry was underweight and suffering a severe stomach virus. His mental state was worse.
He was scared of everything, obsessed with food and could not be left alone.
Around the time Henry came into her life Julie had been diagnosed with ME and diabetes and was depressed.
Taking on Henry changed her life as she saw in him some of the fear and anxiety that she felt herself – together they bonded and Henry became a healthy normal dog.
In 2010, Henry received further training and became Julie’s Medical Alert Assistance dog. He has been trained to alert Julie or someone else in the household when her blood sugar levels are dangerously low by scenting the ketones on her breath.
On one occasion, while it seemed that Julie was asleep on the sofa, Henry became so agitated that when she was checked it was discovered she was desperately ill with septicaemia.
“That was about two years ago,” said Julie. “I do sleep a lot, so no-one thought anything of it. But Henry went mad. He grabbed at sleeves and kept barking.
“Then it was clear that something was wrong and I had to get to hospital urgently. He saved my life.”
“Henry had started displaying signs of sensing my low blood sugar levels himself and he would start licking me and pawing at me. So he spent some time with a trainer to develop this.”
Now Julie and Henry, at nine or ten years old, are inseparable.
Julie, from Beer, nominated Dogs4Adoption for the £300 Buckham Fair prize money in the championship sponsored by Kitson and Trotman and Girling and Bowditch.
Henry will be photographed with Martin Clunes for the cover of a booklet which will feature next year’s rescue dogs and will also have his portrait painted by artist Aviva Halter-Hurn.
Martin Clunes said after the class that it was the most difficult class he had had to judge and that every dog in the ring was a winner.
Runners up were Betsy Brown a seven-year-old Shih-Tzu owned by Louise Keeling who works for the Margaret Green Animal Rescue, recipients of the second award of £150.
The £50 shared third prize went to Lily, a Staffordshire bull terrier with Tanya Bruce- Lockharts, who chose National Animal Welfare Trust and Saxon, a Great Dane owned by Deirdre Cargen, who chose Border Terrier Rescue.