Doggy duo pose for charity photo shoot

Aged almost 70 and having suffered a number of strokes, Adele from Richhill credits her two beautiful dogs for helping her recovery.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 9:39 am
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 9:49 am

Superstars Lola and Baby B, her King Charles Spaniels, are now to be entered into a Top Dog competition which aims to raise much needed funds for the NI Chest Heart and Stroke Association (NICHS).

But, could your pup pip them at the post?

Though 15 years since Adele suffered multiple strokes she certainly accredits her dogs as aiding her recovery.

Adele from Richhill with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Lola and Baby B.

“The thing with dogs is you can’t sit in the corner and feel sorry for yourself. You have to get up and to care for them. The dogs are part of the family, they’re my babies.”

Adele joined her local NICHS Stroke Support Group many years ago.

“In 2003, I had several TIAs [transient ischaemic attacks] plus multiple strokes within a short period of time and ended up in hospital. While I was in, a lady called Noelene from NICHS came to visit. Noelene got me involved in the local group and, at the time, it was a complete lifesaver. I was feeling so sorry for myself.

“Over the years the comradery and the friendship from the group has been so supportive and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, I am more able-bodied than some of the others and can help out at the group sessions with arts and crafts.”

Adele from Richhill's Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Lola and Baby B.

The combination of the NICHS Stroke Support Group and her furry friends has set Adele on the right path. Plus, after many years of working with a local charity rehoming rescue dogs, she is a firm advocate for the mental and physical benefits to owning a dog, especially when in recovery;

“Every day you have to get up and take them out to the garden and that gets me up and walking and helps with my mobility.

“Plus getting out in the fresh air and watching them run around, that does you the world of good.”

Fidelma Carter, Head of Public Health at NICHS says; “The American Heart Association research is really very interesting and demonstrates key benefits of owning a dog. Certainly, anything that reduces stress in your life while simultaneously increasing your level of exercise, can only be positive for your heart health.”

Find out more about how to enter the Top Dog Competition at www.nichs.org.uk/topdogcompetition.

Every £5 entry donation will go directly towards rebuilding the lives of local people suffering with chest, heart and stroke disease.

Over a third of Northern Irish households own a pet dog, making it the highest dog-owning region of the UK.

The competition will run from 1 – 31 May with five categories; Cutest Dog, Best Dressed, Looks Most Like Owner, Old & Fabulous, and Most Outstanding Ears. The winners of each category will be judged for ‘Best in Show’ and the overall victor will walk home with a personalised portrait of their pet.

As well as being loyal companions, recent studies from the American Heart Association, suggest that owning a dog may actually assist with recovery after heart attack or stroke and may also contribute to living a longer and healthier life; “Interacting with dogs can boost your production of ‘happy hormones’ such as oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. This can lead to a greater sense of well-being and help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Having a dog can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, ease depression and improve fitness.”

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