And now we’ve managed to scoop a round-up of some new and super-heartwarming stories about dogs and the loyalty and love they’ve shown to their families.
You’ll hear about a Hypo Hound called Ruby, Cyril, who helps a little boy with autism, and Dusty who knew there were big changes coming to her family before anyone else did.
And first off, we have the story of Bella, who saved her family’s life….
4 of the most heartwarming dog stories you’ll ever hear…
1. “Thanks to Bella we’ll all see another Christmas”
Nicola Jackson, 33, from Swansea, never imagined that her beloved dog Bella would save her family.
Bella became part of the family on Boxing Day 2016. With her soft grey coat, she’s a cross between a Bichon Frise and a Shih Tzu and settled in straight away with Nicola, her husband, Bradley, and their girls, Mia, then 8, and Eva, then 5.
On 1 December 2018 the couple put the girls to bed and Bradley started watching a film in the living room.
“I went to bed with Bella snuggled up by my feet as usual,” says Nicola. “Next thing I knew Bella was panting in my face.
“She had never done that before but I assumed she needed the toilet so I went downstairs to let her out.”
But when Nicola opened the living room door, thick black smoke billowed out and she saw floor-to-ceiling flames everywhere.
As the smoke alarm started Nicola ran back upstairs, grabbed Eva, and told Mia to run downstairs and get out.
“Once the girls were outside safely I ran back in for Bradley, and Bella ran in and raced upstairs,” explains Nicola.
“Bradley had fallen asleep in the chair so a neighbour helped me drag him outside and then the Fire Brigade arrived and raced straight in for Bella.”
As an officer carried Bella outside, her grey coat was black and she was dribbling.
Thankfully they had a little oxygen mask for dogs which they attached to her face.
Bradley had inhaled a lot of smoke but was OK, and after a few days at the vet Bella was fine too.
Their house had been totally gutted in the fire so it was 6 months before they were allowed home.
“The fire officers said that either the Christmas tree lights or the extension lead that had caused the blaze,” says Nicola.
“It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened if Bella hadn’t alerted me to the fire.
“Thanks to her we are all here to see another Christmas,” smiles Nicola.
2. Dusty the dog – who predicted the family changes ahead
Rebecca Roper, 34, credits her Miniature Dachshund, Dusty, for discovering her pregnancy – before Rebecca herself even knew.
“Dusty always had a special bond with my husband, Steve,” explains Rebecca, a member of the MadeForMums Facebook community. “Whenever we sat in the lounge Dusty would snuggle up on the sofa with him.”
But then in February 2018 Rebecca started to notice something odd.
“Suddenly Dusty couldn’t get enough of me,” Rebecca explains. “She would snuggle up on my lap and put her head on my tummy. Steve even joked that he wasn’t the favourite anymore!”
Dusty started following Rebecca around and becoming really protective of her. If they came across other dogs she would bark and stay close to Rebecca.
Something had definitely changed…and in Spring 2018 they found out what.
“I did a pregnancy test and discovered I was pregnant,” Rebecca says. “We had been trying since the January but because I didn’t have proper periods I had no idea.”
When a scan revealed Rebecca was already 10 weeks gone, she thought back and realised something: “The start of my pregnancy coincided exactly with when Dusty had started becoming so protective of me,” she says. “She must have been able to sense it even before I knew myself!”
And when Rebecca and Steve’s son, Jack, was born in November 2018, Dusty and him soon became inseparable. Rebecca puts it down to the special bond they’ve shared from day one.
3. “Cyril gave our son his independence and a voice”
Jo Simmons, 47, from Watford, credits Cyril the black Labrador for their freedom.
When Jo and Neale’s son Ben was diagnosed with autism aged 3, their world came crashing down. Ben struggled to cope with the sights, sounds and smells of the outside world.
“His anxiety about the terror that lay outside the front door meant that he would refuse to leave home,” says Jo. “We felt imprisoned.”Then Jo heard about Dogs For Good, a charity that trains special assistance dogs for people like Ben.
When Ben was 9 years old, he was matched with a black Labrador called Cyril.
“Cyril just followed Ben into the playroom and lay down beside him,” says Jo. “It was like he knew that he was there to help him.”
Since that day Ben’s life was transformed. He agreed to go out to walk Cyril and with Cyril beside him, the world didn’t seem so terrifying.
“People’s attitudes towards us have changed, too,” says Jo. “They can see Cyril is there to help Ben so we no longer suffer the disapproving looks and unkind comments.”
Today, the family can go to restaurants or shopping trips. Cyril helps keep Ben, now 12, calm at doctor and dentist appointments, and even helps him get to school on public transport.
They’ve also seen improvements in Ben’s communications skills.
“It’s like Cyril has given Ben a voice,” she explains. “We talk to Ben about Cyril and he’s really trying to use the words we use and communicate back to us.”
“Thanks to Cyril, our son has been given his independence and his life back.”
4. Hypo Hound Ruby: the night-time watchdog who guards Chloe against diabetic seizures
Kathy Johns, 52, from Chelmsford, Essex, relies on Ruby the Hypo Hound to get help when her daughter’s blood sugar level drops.
Chloe was just 7 when she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
“No one in the family had it so doctors suspected it may have been caused by a virus,” explains Kathy.
“If she hadn’t gone into hospital when she did doctors don’t think she would have survived the night.”
The condition meant that Chloe had to learn to start checking her blood sugar levels every 2 hours and then inject herself with insulin before every meal as well as in the morning and at night.
“Going swimming or doing PE could cause her blood sugar levels to drop so severely that she had a seizure, and the carbohydrates in her food needed to be so closely monitored that things like children’s parties were impossible,” says Kathy. “Chloe became isolated and missed out on so much.”
But then in June 2018 Hypo Hounds came to the rescue. “Through them we were given a Flat Coat Retriever called Ruby and her training got under way,” says Kathy. Ruby and Chloe became inseparable.
Ruby sleeps in Chloe’s bedroom at night and wakes Kathy if she smells Chloe’s breath changing – a signal that her blood sugar levels aren’t right.
“She gives Chloe emotional support as well as physical,” says Kathy.
“They’re best friends who go everywhere together. If Chloe goes swimming Ruby watches on the side, keeping an eye constantly.
“Whenever Chloe goes out of range, Ruby will run and get me.”
“Thanks to Ruby, Chloe’s got her independence and confidence back, and she gives me the peace of mind that she could save her life too.”
Pictures supplied by families