Published: 00:01, 18 November 2013
She might look like a normal labrador, but Millie the dog is a four-legged guardian angel.
That is the view of her owner, 46-year-old Alison Tompsett, who says not only has her pet helped her cope with fits, but even senses when she is about to have one.
Mrs Tompsett, of Roman Road, Snodland, was diagnosed with a progressive muscle-weakening disease three years ago. Symptoms include stroke-like attacks.
She got Millie as a puppy for her 40th birthday. A year later she began to reveal her calling.
When Mrs Tompsett had a fit and fell on the floor, Millie came and stood beside her, not moving, and stood rigid so her owner could pull herself up using the animal.
She then began to offer her help regularly, each time Mrs Tompsett had a fall. It was this that prompted her to find out about assistance dog training run by the Dog AID charity (Dogs Assistance in Disability).
She said: “Millie knows when I’m feeling ill. She just stays right by my side when I am having a fit. She just sticks by me like glue.
“She always has an eye on me. But if I’m feeling OK, she will keep her distance a little bit. I adore her. She is my guardian angel.”
The dog has even sensed when she was about to have a fit.
Mrs Tompsett said of the time she planned to leave the lounge and get in her wheelchair. But she believes the dog knew if she had spasms she would fall out.
Mrs Tompsett said: “She came and sat in front of me, and just sat there. And then I felt my leg go and I realised she had known. That was the most amazing thing.”
Millie now helps with everyday tasks, from pegging out the washing and fetching washing and helping her owner get undressed.
“If my husband Derek is helping me put my socks on, she loves nothing more than taking them off for me,” she said. Training was funded and provided by Dog AID. To thank the charity, the couple, who have a grown-up son, regularly raise money.
The trio also visit a home for people suffering from dementia, where Millie allows them to stroke her and give her hugs.
Mrs Tompsett added: “It is thanks to this wonderful charity of volunteer trainers and support staff that I still have some independence and my husband can go to work not worrying too much.”