Leamington woman's inspiring service dog narrowly misses out on shortlist for Crufts award

A Leamington woman’s inspiring service dog has narrowly missed out on the shortlist for a Crufts award.

Dog trainer Ruby Welsford, 27, has multiple disabilities including cerebral palsy, autism and a sensory processing disorder, and because of her co-occurring conditions, her brain can get overloaded and begin to shutdown.

Ruby and Betsy. Photo submitted

Ruby and Betsy. Photo submitted

This is where Betsy, a six-year-old Border Collie-Labrador cross, steps in and alerts Ruby to any shutdowns.

But Betsy, who was acquired after Ruby’s 21st birthday, is more than just an assistance dog, and through Ruby’s careful training, she has become an internet sensation performing a whole host of tricks – most notably with a Frisbee.

“With Betsy about, people don’t concentrate on my conditions. Instead, they look at that incredibly clever assistance dog,” said Ruby.

“She has stopped me from falling into roads, she has alerted me and managed to get help when I could have been stranded on trains. She is amazing.

Ruby and Betsy. Photo submitted.

Ruby and Betsy. Photo submitted.

“I have managed to teach her about 450-500-plus different things because she is so smart. She has very much inspired me to become a dog trainer.”

The sheer impact Betsy has had prompted Ruby to nominate her for the hero assistance dog category in The Kennel Club’s Friends for Life award at Crufts, where she narrowly missed out on the final shortlist, celebrating all assistance dogs, from guide and hearing to medical detection and autism assistance.

The Kennel Club wants to celebrate and share the amazing stories of how dogs give back to us every day of our lives. There will be one winner per category, decided through a public vote, and the overall winner will be announced in the NEC arena at Crufts 2019.

The winner will also be awarded £5,000 and the runners-up will each receive – for their nominated canine charity – £1,000 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust – helping to make a difference for dogs.

Betsy, who was once scared of other dogs, also acts as a stooge-dog helping other nervous pets get over their fears and tours the country with performances and playing dog-Frisbee.

For Ruby, the impact this has had is monumental and has helped her with her confidence tenfold.

She said: “We go all over the country doing performances and teaching people how to teach their dogs Frisbee.

“Dog-Frisbee and the whole training of Betsy has given me so much confidence going into social situations. I have met other people. I have met my tribe of people shall I say. The dog world is a fantastic place to be.

“When Betsy is working or performing she is a right diva. If I try and get her out of the arena or to stop working, she’ll throw a fit. There have been times when it has taken three of us to get her out of the arena.

“Without Betsy I wouldn’t be doing any of this. Because of my condition, lots of things are really, hard. My confidence was low and doing training is something that gives me confidence. She has been my biggest teacher.”