A woman with a series of life-threatening illnesses has defied the odds – and she says it’s all thanks to her rescue dog.
Amanda Shaw has brittle asthma, psoriatic arthritis and Addison’s Disease and in 2015 had to stop working due to the pain she was in and the frequent extreme fatigue caused by the conditions.
But despite his own health issues, her three-legged dog Lister, has helped her turn her life around.
“I was adjusting to the idea that I may never work again and knew I needed to have a purpose in life,” Amanda remembers. “Myself and my husband are dog lovers so as it looked like I was going to have to be at home for the foreseeable future, we felt the time was right to welcome a dog into our home.”
On a rainy day in November 2015, Amanda and her husband James, headed off to Dogs Trust Leeds where they met a ten-week-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross puppy who had arrived at the rehoming centre just a few hours earlier with a broken leg.
“When I was told about him my heart went out to him,” Amanda says. “I immediately felt we had something in common as were both battling to overcome pain and health problems.
“He sat on my lap and despite everything he had been through he was so loving, gentle and trusting. We looked into each other’s eyes and there was an immediate connection. It was love at first sight.”
A few weeks later Lister, as Amanda and James named him, headed home with them to enjoy his home comforts and lots of TLC as he recovered from his broken leg. He became the centre of Amanda’s life and after a few weeks he was on the road to recovery.
“Loneliness often takes over when you can’t work, but Lister turned out to be my lifeline,” Amanda says. “Together we started to get better and get our lives back.
“He had to go out for short walks at first which got me out of the house and then our walks got longer, I met other dog walkers, we joined a doggie display group, I was asked if I wanted to try jogging! It was incredible. All of a sudden I was talking to people, the exercise was doing me good and it was all because of Lister.”
With Lister’s constant companionship Amanda, now 39, has gone from strength to strength and has returned to work, being able to work from home for the majority of the week with Lister by her side. But sadly in July last year the decision was taken to amputate Lister’s damaged leg.
“Ever since we adopted him we’ve gone back to our vets, supported by Dogs Trust, regularly for them to monitor his leg,” Amanda explains. “Unfortunately it was such a bad fracture in the first place his bones weren’t growing correctly and it was becoming painful. It became clear that for him to be pain free, amputation was the best option. After two weeks he was back to his usual, lively self. There’s no stopping him!”
With Amanda’s conditions being managed effectively and having increased her fitness levels thanks to Lister, she signed up for this year’s Great North Run. Despite the fact that just a few weeks before she was in Intensive Care with shingles, she completed the gruelling race and raised hundreds of pounds for Dogs Trust.
“It has been a tough year not least as we found out that we couldn’t have children, so I wanted to set myself a challenge and raise money for Dogs Trust who have been fantastic,” she says. “I committed to running, walking and crawling the Great North Run if necessary and I did it and Lister was there at the end to congratulate me.
“Lister is an absolute joy. A dog is for life and Lister has given me my life back. I know he’ll always be there for me and we will always be there for him. Whatever we face in the future, we’ll face it together. I know we rescued him, but he rescued me too.”