THE IMPACT a dog can have on a person’s life is extraordinary.

For Nicola Russell, 32, from North Ayrshire, her dog Boston has changed her life in so many ways and managed to make her a part of her community once again, prompting nomination for The Kennel Club’s Friends for Life award.

Nicola, who is medically retired, has many health-related problems and is now bound to a wheelchair.

As a child, Nicola feared dogs after seeing her Nan attacked by a German Sheppard and she, herself, was later bitten by a Jack Russell she previously owned.

But through acquiring Boston, a six-year-old rescue Jack Russel-Hungarian Vizsla cross, he has helped her to overcome her fears.

“I was actually scared of dogs when I met Boston, so he has got me over my fear,” said Nicola.

“Boston is a rescue dog. He wasn’t wanted by his previous owners. They were letting their two-year-old ride him like a pony and he was nipping the child. When he came to me he was terrified of the world in general. He had never met another dog. He had never really met any other people.

“But because he was so scared, I couldn’t be scared. I had to be the strong one and he is repaying that now. He is my strength. I don’t go anywhere without him. I couldn’t even go to the local shop. Just being in public without him is hard.”

Boston was too old to become an assistance dog for Nicola but in a way, he has become more than that to her.

Her very clever pet, who recently passed his assessments with Alzheimer Scotland and is now a qualified Dementia Dog Befriender, has helped put Nicola in social situations she never would have found herself in without Boston.

Now the pair have been nominated for the Friends for Life award in the man’s best friend category, celebrating a pet dog who has seen its owner through the hardest times as well as the happiest.

The Kennel Club wants to celebrate and share the amazing stories of how dogs give back to us every day of our lives. There will be one winner per category, decided through a public vote, and the overall winner will be announced in the NEC arena at Crufts 2019.

The winner will also be awarded £5,000 and the runners up will each receive – for their nominated canine charity – £1,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust – helping to make a difference for dogs.

She said: “When I got Boston it meant that I had to leave the house and not just sit inside and block out the world.

“When I moved to Scotland, I really didn’t have a social network. I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t do anything. I just existed.

“With Boston, I started going to dog training classes and different events. He gave me a social life and he gave me a purpose. If I’d been in a wheelchair six years ago, I think I would have given up.

“He has given me a purpose, especially with the Alzheimer’s volunteering. Where I can’t work, I still feel like I should give back to the community.

“He has given me a voice and to be part of the community again, and to be able to give back rather than just feeling like you’re existing.”