IT IS a bond that has been life-changing. And now the friendship of a Portsmouth woman and her beloved pooch are in line to clinch a top prize at Crufts 2017.
Michelle Clark put her German pinscher Tauri forward in the A Life of Friendship category of the competition at the world’s largest dog show.
It was in recognition of the support offered by the pet to the 40-year-old while she relived a traumatic moment of her early army career, for a BBC documentary.
Former soldier Michelle featured in the Panorama documentary Deepcut: The Army’s Shame – in which ex-troops spoke about a culture of bullying and physical and sexual abuse in the wake of the inquest’s verdict into the death of Private Cheryl James in 1995.
Five-year-old Tauri offered support and comfort to Michelle, and was lying by her side during filming.
‘She has just been really special. She is a one-in-a-million dog. I have three German pinschers and she stands out from the others,’ said Michelle.
Not only is she my pet and companion she’s my best friendMichelle Clark
Michelle served with Private Sean Benton and Private Cheryl James, who died at Deepcut in 1995.
As part of the documentary, she attended the inquest into Cheryl’s death and took Tauri with her for support.
‘It was hard enough doing it as it is, but she knew when I was upset and helped me get through it – the film crew loved her,’ she added.
‘It was like having my best friend with me, holding my hand.
‘It was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.’
The pair now hope they will feature at the Kennel Club’s Eukanuba Friends for Life showpiece on Sunday, March 12, at Birmingham’s NEC arena.
The competition celebrates heart-warming stories of friendship in adversity, where dogs have earned the title of man’s best friend, through bravery, support or companionship.
Michelle suffers from functional neurological disorder and admits she would rarely leave her home if it was not for her canine best friend – who has instilled her with added confidence.
She added: ‘I think as a spirit she is different to any other dog and people sense that.
‘Not only is she my pet and companion she’s my best friend, she is everyone’s friend.’