A Cumbernauld man and his ‘best friend’ have made it to the final of a competition at Crufts which honours pets who act as carers.
Life looked bleak for Michael Keane (28) from Carrickstone after he suffered a stroke in 2013 and had his leg amputated and replaced with a prosthetic limb.
However mighty Great Dane Bruce came into his life as his assistance dog thanks to an organisation called Canine Generated Independence.
Bruce has helped Michael to walk again without sticks, take medication and recover from the falls which are a regular occurrence at home.
Former charge nurse Michael, who attended Our Lady’s High School, said that Bruce has also transformed his life at home and he is now no longer dependent on his wife Jennifer to act as his full-time carer.
Michael said: “Jennifer and I got married, had our daughter Lauren and later I had a stroke. She never once left my side and never faltered in terms of the relationship.
“Jennifer is no longer my nurse and carer. Bruce deals with all of these responsibilities.
“As far as Jennifer is concerned she has her husband back because I have a purpose. And that is because of Bruce.
“Now I can be a husband and father. My nurse just happens to be a big black dog.”
Bruce has been named a finalist in the Kennel Club’s Eukanuba Friends For Life competition at the world’s largest dog show.
This will take place on Sunday, March 12, at Birmingham’s NEC arena – where a section about the finalist will be beamed into millions of homes.
Judges were impressed not simply by the aid provided by Bruce but the fact that Michael has been inspired to examine potential assistance jobs in training.
Michael who also has a son Callum said: “I used to breed German Shepherds but I have never had a bond with one like I have with Bruce. This is something totally different.
“People really love their pets but this goes beyond basic dependency – we keep each other safe.
“Now I go out with friends and get involved in events. We flew to Bristol to do CGI exams and made even more friends.
“It has blown away barriers of disability because people are talking about it. We offer support and advice. What better way to do it than with a dog?”