Flora’s lifesaving instincts were initially mistaken for a stubborn streak.

The six-year-old Akita, owned by Islington’s Robert Stuhldreer, was not intended to be an assistance dog.

But a potentially disastrous incident, when Flora was just a few months old, demonstrated her sixth sense for danger.

“For many years now I’ve been suffering from blackouts,” said Robert, 57. “I hit the deck and then come to at some point a little later.

“I’m very strict about my dog’s training. When they’re on a lead they have to walk on a loose lead, calmly by my side. They’re not allowed to pull.

“I was just walking to the end of my road and she just stopped dead and wouldn’t move.

“It’s a thing that Akitas do anyway. She was very young, so I put it down to that.

“I thought she was just being stubborn, which is part of her breed’s standard. I didn’t give it much credence.

“Then she did something that goes against all her training – she walked straight in front of me and blocked me. I got a bit annoyed and told her, ‘No, don’t do that.’ “We walked a bit further and then, another thing I don’t allow my dogs to do, she started to mouth my hand. She was around that age where she’s starting to teeth, so I didn’t give it much thought.

“Seconds later I blacked out.”

Since then, Flora has warned Robert time and time again of an impending blackout episode, her alerts ensuring he has time to lie down in a place of safety.

According to Robert, her success rate is around 99 per cent.

He now wants to reward her loyalty by nominating her in the Hero Assistance Dog category in the Friends For Life award at the famous Crufts dog show next month.

Friends for Life is a celebration of just how much dogs change and improve people’s lives. Five of the finalists will go to the 127th edition of Crufts – where every dog has its day – held once again at the NEC in Birmingham, where the winner will be announced on Sunday, March 11.

People can vote for the dog they want to win by visiting the Crufts website, with the victor receiving £5,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust to donate to a dog charity of their choice and runners-up £1,000.

Robert, a retired NHS counsellor, who also served in the RAF, has kept the Akita breed for 20 years.

“They’re quite strong-willed,” he added.

“The brand standard says words like stubborn, standoffish, aloof and people will be put off by that.

“When I first read that brand standard, I thought it sounds fantastic – it’s just like me.”

A primitive breed that requires socialisation from day one, Robert has invested great time in training Flora.

Since realising her assistance dog potential, he has taken her through three qualification levels and a stringent public access test for her final badge.

“It might sound a bit weird, but there’s some kind of symbiosis there,” Robert reflected. “I just get what she’s about and she gets what I’m about.

“It’s just a really lovely relationship.

“I want people to see that if you put the hard work into a dog, then this is what you can achieve.”