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Crufts date for ray of sunshine.

Byline: Sally Williams Reporter sally.williams@walesonline.co.uk

ADOG that has spent her life spreading happiness in a care home for people living with dementia has made it to the final of one of the Crufts Dog Show's most prestigious awards.

Ellie May, a nine-year-old Lhasa Apso, has been living at Oaklands Care Home, in Crickhowell, Powys, since she was eight weeks old.

She has been credited with transforming the lives of both the residents, and their families who visit the home.

Whether it is accompanying people on walks, helping to calm residents if they become confused or scared, or providing a distraction for visiting young relatives, Ellie May is always on hand to assist at any time of the day, her owner says.

Care home manager Julie Cashell, 38, said her charismatic pet, Ellie May, deserves an honour.

She said: "The whole time I've managed Oaklands she has been there, every day, every night, helping to calm people down.

"Sometimes when people can become quite aggressive, those that are living with dementia, she is on hand straightaway to help and distract them and just calm them down just at the right time - and that's what makes such a difference.

"She just gives such love and warmth.

"For the small children who come to visit their family members, care homes can be frightening places to visit sometimes, but having Ellie May just to distract makes such a big impact.

"Our care home is only a small home, it's very personal.

"The care that we are able to give and the whole atmosphere would be very different without Ellie May.

"We know Ellie May is not heroic and she won't save lives, but what she does do is make lives for so many people liveable, and that's what we focus on in our home, making every day count.

"And she is very much a part of our staff team to help us do that.

"The difference she has made has been unbelievable," she said.

"We only have to look at the residents that live there, the families, the comments we have, she is even in our inspection report.

"I hope this gives people the confidence to have a little dog in their home too, especially where there are dementia patients and older people.

"We run trips to Crufts, so to be able to be part of this competition and in the arena, we just can't wait."

Ellie May is one of four finalists in the Eukanuba Friends for Life competition at the world-famous dog show at Birmingham NEC on March 8. The annual competition, run by the Kennel Club, is designed to celebrate uplifting stories of friendship in adversity.

People can vote for their ultimate Eukanuba Friend for Life at www.channel4.com/cruftsvote

CAPTION(S):

Ellie May and owner Julie Cashell, from Crickhowell <B

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 26, 2015
Words:475
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