A remarkable dog from Brighton has been named as a finalist at a national awards ceremony.
Ethan, an assistance dog, is now a finalist for an Amplifon Brave Britons award which celebrates remarkable people and pets.
The canine companion, does ‘everything’ for his owner Sally Whitney, 32, from Brighton Marina and has transformed her life, earning him a place in the Hero Pet category.
Sally has violent seizures lasting several hours and had previously relied solely on carers to help her around the clock.
This changed four years ago when black labrador and golden retriever-cross Ethan entered her life.
He assists Sally with everything from fetching food from the fridge, getting dressed, and even paying for her shopping using a contactless card.
Sally said: “He helps me from the moment I get up until the moment I go to bed and he is with me all night – I can’t imagine my life without Ethan.”
Ethan is trained to do many physical tasks for Sally, but her constant companion has become much more than an assistance dog.
Incredibly, although not trained as a medical detection dog, Ethan has taught himself to help Sally in emergency situations.
Sally said: “Initially, Ethan would rush to get the help of a carer when I said ‘help’. But now he has taught himself to detect changes in my health that not even I’m aware of.
“He will stare at me, nudge me or even lick my face if my heart rate is too high or my blood pressure changes and will persist in telling me until I do something about it.
“On one occasion, I was in the bathroom and I felt fine but Ethan started whining and then licking my face but I didn’t know why. Then before I knew it, he had flung open the door and was rushing up the hall.
“In the meantime, I started to become faint and dizzy and then fell to the floor. Because Ethan had noticed ahead of time, my carer had arrived in the bathroom and was able to catch me before I hit my head on the floor.”
Sally has Lupus and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which causes the tissues holding her organs in place to become stretchy and fragile.
She said: “I had cripplingly low self-esteem and Ethan challenged me to believe that I could be of worth to someone else due to his unconditional love and constant attention. That’s how I had the confidence to start dating my now husband, Ed.”
Ethan joined the pair on their first date and walked Sally down the aisle on the big day – leaving her dad to walk behind the inseparable pair.
The Amplifon Awards for Brave Britons finals luncheon will take place at the Army and Navy Club in Pall Mall, London, on October 15, when His Royal Highness, the Duke of Kent, will present the awards.
Winners will be judged by a panel including Falklands war hero Simon Weston.
Set up in honour of Amplifon’s founder, Second World War Hero Major Charles Holland, the awards recognise courage and achievement in the categories of Active Ager, Charity Champion, Service to their Country, Young Hero and Against All Odds.
Animals who have transformed the lives of their owners are honoured in the Hero Pet category.