'Hero dog' award finalist gives Team GB para-athlete Jazz Turner her life back

  • ITV News Meridian's Malcolm Shaw reports on Jazz's life-changing companion

Team GB para-athlete Jazz Turner says she has been given her life back thanks to her golden retriever Phoebe.

Jazz's canine is among two dogs from East Sussex who have been nominated for a national award for transforming the lives of their young owners.

The coveted Kennel Club Hero Dog Award recognises the UK’s most heroic canine.

Jazz, 25, from Seaford, says her golden retriever Phoebe helps her live life to the full.

When she was 18, Jazz was diagnosed with the life-limiting progressive condition hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

The condition causes her joints to dislocate, affects many of her other bodily systems and means she has to be fed intravenously.

But thanks to her assistance dog Phoebe, a five-year-old rescue dog, Jazz can go about her daily life, despite her disability.

  • Jazz Turner says her golden retriever Phoebe has transformed her life

Phoebe alerts Jazz to her fainting episodes and seizures, and gives her independence back. They sail and even paddleboard together.

Jazz said: "I can do things I never would be able to without Phoebe.

"She helps me out with everyday tasks and means I don’t need my parents or a carers help to do day to day activities, letting me feel like a normal 25 year old.

"Phoebe is my lifeline, my best friend and she gives me an independence I wouldn’t otherwise have.

"No matter where I take her she seems to know what the person needs."

Together, Jazz and Phoebe also volunteer at care homes and several local universities to help with stress. They also help young people with learning difficulties.

Along the coast, another extraordinary dog has transformed the life of Elyana Kuhlemeier.

The 12-year-old is profoundly deaf and has suffered severe anxiety, but her labrador Gordon has given her the confidence to overcome challenges.

Elyana's parents noticed that she was experiencing hearing loss when she was two and a half years old.

Despite genetic testing, the cause remains unknown.

Not only was Elyana experiencing hearing loss, but she also faced challenges with bullying and making friends.

At her lowest points, Elyana would tear her own hair out in clumps or would become sick when everything got too much for her.

But the arrival of Gordon transformed her life, her confidence, and her self-belief.

Gordon provides reassurance during difficult nighttime hours, and safety by alerting Elyana to sounds.

Gordon wakes Elyana up in the morning by pulling her duvet off, and gives her focus, routine, confidence and companionship.

When she returns from school, Gordon is over the moon to see her.

Silvie, Elyana’s mum, said: "Gordon has brought support, comfort, and reassurance not just to Elyana’s life, but to our whole family.

"Thanks to Gordon, she is positive and excited for the future, and doesn’t feel that her deafness will stop her from achieving what she wants to.

"Every single day we see the bond between him and Elyana grow stronger."

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Among the other finalists are a search and rescue dog whose job it is to locate survivors of

humanitarian accidents and disasters across the world and a four-legged best friend who has been by her young owners side through both the hardest times and the best times.

The public can now vote for which dog they believe deserves the title the most with the vote closing at 4pm on Sunday 10 March.

The final for the Hero Dog Award 2024 will take place at Crufts on 10 March at the NEC, Birmingham.

The overall winner will be announced in the Resorts World Arena by award ambassador, Libby Clegg.