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Abandoned by his previous owner, Henry was given a second chance in a new, loving home - and repaid the favour by saving his new mistress’s life.

The 11-year-old springer spaniel was on the brink of death when he was rescued in 2008. He had spent several weeks locked in a house without food or water while his owner worked away. When neighbours heard his cries for help and contacted the police, his owner decided to put him in boarding kennels the next time he left town. But nobody ever returned to collect Henry.

The seriously ill dog developed a severe stomach virus that nearly killed him. He was extremely underweight, his coat was matted and stained with urine, he had infected ears and his skin and nose were very sore. Henry was also scared of everything, he hated closed doors, was obsessed with food and couldn’t be left alone.

He was eventually adopted by Julie Barrett, 34, and the pair formed an instant bond. Julie was also going through a tough time in her life after being diagnosed with three debilitating conditions - ME, fibromyalgia and diabetes. Despairing that she would ever get her life back, Julie had sunk into depression and even considered taking her own life.

But with somebody else to care for, Julie soon started to gain confidence and see a purpose to her life again. Henry would also take care of Julie, helping to calm her whenever she had a panic attack. He also started displaying signs of sensing when Julie’s blood sugar levels were falling dangerously low, licking and pawing at her to alert her. So in 2010, the clever dog received training and is now Julie’s official medical alert assistance dog. 

In August 2010, Henry saved Julie’s life. Slumped unconscious on the sofa, Julia had developed septicaemia. Sensing the danger, Henry started acting strangely, pulling Julia’s mother over to the sofa, barking and pawing at Julia. She was rushed to hospital, where surgeons removed the infected tissue from her leg and saved her life.

Henry is now completely deaf, but has learnt sign language and is now an ambassador for the Deaf Dog Network, taking part in demonstrations to show that deaf dogs still make great pets.