Nora the Border Collie came into Lorna Syrett’s life at exactly the right time.

In 2019, a 27-year-old Syrett was diagnosed with an aggressive form of arthritis that leaves her in constant pain on a daily basis.

Syrett had always wanted a dog for as long as she can remember, even attempting to train her pony to play fetch as a child, and shortly after Nora arrived, the accountant was convinced of her talent.

Four years later and the pair are on their way to Crufts next month, after winning their advanced class at the first time of asking to qualify for their maiden competition.

Ealing Times:

“I cried," recalled Syrett. "I have pictures of me bursting into tears. I set myself little goals in the year to keep me going because the condition is lifelong. 

“My goal this year was just to get to advanced so the fact that we did our first advanced class and qualified for Crufts, it wildly blew up my expectations.

“I think she can tell something big is coming up. We’re trying to train hard but obviously not overdo it because at the end of the day, she is a dog and I want to make sure it’s always fun for her.

“We don’t have anything to prove. We’ve fulfilled our goal but obviously that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try and go out for the win to prove that Nora is this amazing dog.”

It has been a meteoric rise for Syrett and 4-year-old Nora, who is always on hand to offer much-needed emotional support whenever the arthritis flares.

Syrett explained: “If I’m having a bad day and sitting still, which is not what you’re supposed to do, she’ll always get a toy and be like: look I know you’re sad, but let’s go play. 

“If she hears me crying she’ll always go and get a toy. She understands that when we’re playing together I’m happy. 

Ealing Times:

“So if I’m crying she’ll think, if I go and get here a toy she’ll be happy again, because you can’t be sad when you’re playing with a dog.”

And ahead of their heelwork to music event at Crufts, Syrett is going in without any expectations and is only hoping to put in a performance that shows Nora in her best light.

“She can be a bit of a nervous dog now and again but when she’s performing it’s like you see a different side of her,” said Syrett.

“So performing actually brings out her confidence as well as my own. What’s let us down sometimes is the fact I can be very nervous sometimes because I feel like I’m letting Nora down. 

“I want to make sure that I’m doing the best for her because she’s such an amazing dog and I want everyone to see that.”

Crufts, run by The Kennel Club, is a unique celebration of happy, healthy dogs and of the loving relationship that they enjoy with their owners. Crufts is held from 9-12 March 2023 at the NEC Birmingham. Viewers can follow all the action and highlights on Channel 4 and More4, and for further information and tickets visit