A woman who credits her dog with saving her life is now performing with her four-legged companion at Crufts this weekend.
Following a motorbike crash, Sofie Hawkins was left feeling suicidal – but says her Chihuahua and Miniature Pinscher crossbreed, Harleigh, helped pull her through.
Sofie, 25, was knocked off her motorbike in August 2021 and left with several injuries, including broken ribs and a punctured lung.
She was also temporarily paralysed in her left arm for three months, so had to quit her job as a lorry driver. The 25-year-old was also forced to give up hobbies such as gymnastics, pole dancing and horse riding.
During this time, Sofie says she felt ‘very lonely and cut off’ from friends.
Having lost her brother Daniel, 21, to suicide in 2018, Sofie’s mental health started to spiral downhill to the point where she didn’t ‘want to be here anymore.’
It was at this point a psychologist recommended getting an emotional support dog.
So in November 2021, she took on puppy Harleigh – who attended all of her hospital, physio and counselling appointments during her recovery.
‘I initially went to look at a different puppy, but Harleigh wouldn’t leave me alone,’ she said.
‘She chose me and has been by my side ever since.’
The pooch now gives Sofie the motivation to get up every single day, and helps to ‘bring her out of bad places.’
Sofie added: ‘If it wasn’t for Harleigh I would not be here today.
‘My life has changed since the accident, but I am very thankful to Harleigh for saving me time and time again.
‘She’s a little dog with a big attitude. She is very pretty, and I think she knows it – she likes to pose in front of the camera.
‘She’s very spoiled – she has a better wardrobe than I do.
‘I buy her loads of coats and hoodies for the winter – it makes me happy and gives me something to do.’
And, after Harleigh won a dog show in Newbury for ‘prettiest female’, Sofie decided to enter the pooch into Crufts this year.
The pair are taking part in the competition this weekend, alongside other contestants for the crown of Prettiest Female.