FOR Amy Wilton, doting whippet Holly is more than just a great friend – she helps to keep her life in balance.
Amy, 17, is Type 1 diabetic and whenever her blood sugar levels start to drop her pet notices.
The dog will lick her hand, jump up at her and stare at her until she realises that something must be wrong.
And there have been times when Holly has woken her owner up because she senses things.
Because of her continued support, Amy decided to submit a stunning picture of her dog, who turns 10 in January, into the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2012.
Amy, of Frosthole Crescent, Fareham, is a keen photographer and went to Hill Head beach to take a snap of her pet with the sunset behind her.
Now the South Downs College student is celebrating after her photo came first in the Making Life Better category of the competition.
Amy was presented with a trophy and a camera by the RSPCA’s vice president Bill Oddie at an awards ceremony.
Amy said: ‘I’m shocked and delighted that I won.
‘It’s one of my favourite pictures of Holly because I like the way the light shines around her.
‘She’s amazing and is always there for me. She follows me wherever I go.
‘She senses whenever there is something wrong with me.’
She added: ‘About a year ago I woke up in the night and Holly was there staring at me.
‘I went downstairs to let her out of the door but she looked at me as if I was doing something odd.
‘The all of a sudden I came over faint and it was then that I realised my blood sugar levels must be low. We have a special bond between us.’
Amy adopted Holly from a puppy farm in Wales three years ago when the whippet was underweight and frightened. In her application for the competition, she explained how patience and love turned her pet into a friend.
Amy also has two other whippets – Lydia, who is six in January, and eight-month-old Cassie.
Becky Lyons, picture editor for the RSPCA and one of the judges for the contest, said: ‘We all fell in love with this story.
‘It showed perfectly how much a rescued pet can in turn rescue their owner and change their life.
‘It sums up what the RSPCA is all about.’