For most people, getting engaged is a two-person affair. When Lydia Williams got engaged last Christmas, her boyfriend made sure her dog Huzzah was there with them.

Lydia, from Brecon in Wales, has been with partner Austin for three and a half years, and Huzzah for nearly five.

The white miniature schnauzer came into Lydia’s life as she was recovering from spinal surgery back in 2013, and now she hopes to reward his loyalty by nominating him in the Man’s Best Friend category of the Friends for Life awards at Crufts.

Friends for Life is a celebration of just how much dogs change and improve people’s lives. Five of the finalists will got to Crufts, held once again at the NEC in Birmingham, where the winner will be announced on Sunday March 11.

“Out of nowhere I was diagnosed with a tumour in my spine,” recalls Lydia, who was 24 at the time.

“I was working for the Cardiff Blues academy, my dream job, and competing internationally in martial arts.

“All that stopped dead.”

Surgery to remove the tumour was successful, but doctors could not be certain that Lydia would ever walk again.

“The surgery went well but the recovery didn’t,” she continued.

“I live on painkillers.

“I was showing dogs before the tumour. That’s been my passion since I was ten.

“They said, ‘you’ll never do that again’, but Huzzah has always been there.

“During my recovery it took me ten minutes to walk up my garden path but he was next to me the entire time.

“We did that over and over again. He got me up and walking. Without that, I would have struggled.

“Mentally I was in a very bad place because everything I knew was done.

“I wouldn’t be me without him – he stood between me and some very dark places. I get tearful about it now.”

Lydia and Huzzah have been through so much together that when fiancé Austin came on the scene, it took some time for the schnauzer to accept his presence.

“He does like my other half but it took him six months to get used to him! He used to sit between us on the sofa,” she jokes.

“My partner proposed at Christmas and he made sure Huzzah was there with us.

“He shut everyone else out, got Huzzah into bed with us, and Huzzah’s response was to push the ring away!”

But Huzzah was not intended to be Lydia’s companion; he was originally bought as a birthday present for Lydia’s mum in July 2013.

“We bonded incredibly strongly and Mum said ‘you keep him because he’s happier with you!’” added Lydia.

“He’s a bit of an idiot. He’ll come in and slap me in the face as if to say, ‘come on, get off the sofa.’

“He knows how to make me laugh. I’d be in a very bad place without him.”

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.