Lottie and Velvet up for prize

Lottie Wilcocks and her pet pooch Velve. Credit: onEdition''Crufts
Lottie Wilcocks and her pet pooch Velve. Credit: onEdition''Crufts

A black labrador that helped transform the life of an aspiring Paralympian from Ripponden has made the final of the prestigious Friends for Life competition at Crufts.

Lottie Wilcocks and her pet pooch Velvet have been inseparable since the pair met two years ago.

Lottie, 12, suffers from spina bifida and hydrocephalus – fluid on the brain – leaving her unable to walk or feel sensation below her mid-thigh.

As the Ripponden youngster, who has ambitions to travel the world as a wheelchair athlete, started to realise she would never be able to walk her canine best friend came along.

And Velvet changed Lottie’s life and gave her the confidence to go out in public when she was growing tired of being stared at.

“Before people just looked at me as the girl in the wheelchair and that really started to annoy me,” Lottie said.

“Now people look at me in a totally different way; I feel a lot more confident.

“I’m aiming to go into the Paralympics and be the next Hannah Cockroft! Velvet has encouraged me to get out more and pursue my athletic dreams.

“Before Velvet life was very difficult. I had to rely on my mum and dad and my little brother.

“Velvet has brought me independence that I didn’t really have before.”

The winner will be announced on Sunday March 9 at Birmingham’s NEC.