Dr Ruth Miller-Anderson doesn’t need telling that a dog is a woman’s best friend – because her pet has played nurse and looked after her when she was laid low by Covid-19.
As a busy high flier juggling her career as a success coach and pharmacist, Ruth isn’t the kind of woman to slow down.
But when she caught coronavirus in February, Ruth was floored – and while she’s determined to get back on her feet, recovery has been slow.
Luckily her six-year-old bichon frise Stella has been a little star, refusing to leave her side throughout her illness, and offering comfort and company.
“The fatigue is just crushing, and I’ve spent hours in bed – but Stella will be right there beside me, and go and sit at my feet. Even if I'm asleep, I know she's there and she'll snuggle in. She hasn't left my side all the time I've been ill,” explains Ruth, 48.
“We’ve always had such a lovely bond, but I feel like we've become closer because she seems to sense when I need that comfort.”
‘We have gained more love, loyalty and joy from our dogs than we could ever have imagined’ – Ruth Miller-Anderson
Although Stella is devoted to Ruth, the loyal little dog has plenty of love for the rest of the family.
“Stella’s always been very close to my husband Alan and he says: ‘I think you’re taking over from me now!’ But she understands when I’m sick and when I need her.
“When she can see I’m not feeling myself she’ll sit with me, and when she’s sure I’m OK she’ll go back to Alan.
“If Stella realises you’re not feeling happy she’ll come over and look up at you. Stella’s always been very intuitive like that, and seems to know if someone in the house is upset.
“Dogs are so intuitive and they know when you’re not feeling great, but I’ve never seen anything like Stella’s intuition. She’d make a good emotional support dog – and she’s really cute.”
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Ruth speaks fondly of the happy bond she and her family have formed with Stella and their other dog, Salah: “We have gained more from them in terms of love, loyalty and joy than we could ever have imagined.”
Before Stella came into their lives, dog lover Ruth did careful research as she and daughter Sophia are allergic to pet fur.
“The bichon frise was recommended as a great family dog that doesn’t shed fur, so it’s good for people with allergies,” says Ruth, who lives with Alan, 50, and 15-year-old Sophia in Moneymore, Northern Ireland.
“We’ve had other bichons over the years, so we know they’re lively wee dogs and they know their own minds! They’re such fabulous characters with strong personalities, but Stella is such a sweet-natured dog, and very cute.”
Also giving Ruth and her family lots of love and loyalty is Salah, who is about six. He’s a gorgeous saluki who Ruth and Alan found frightened and abandoned when they were on an evening walk in 2018, and they decided to ‘adopt’ him.
Ruth recalls: “The rescue centre near us assessed him, and told us all he needed was love and attention and he’d make a wonderful pet.”
Now Ruth and her family can’t imagine life without Salah and Stella, and are reaping the benefits of owning dogs. “They make our home life complete,” she says.
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