Milton Keynes' amazing 'midwife dog' wins national award for her efforts

Belle is an outstanding example of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier
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A Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Belle who helped her owner give birth to a healthy baby boy has today been named as the UK’s Pet of the Year 2023.

Belle helped Amee Tomkins overcome her autism and crippling anxiety about being in hospital, being pregnant and giving birth.

The Citizen revealed exclusively yesterday (Monday) how Belle was the first dog ever to be allowed onto the Labour Ward at MK hospital – and did an amazing job as a canine midwife.

Amee with Belle and OllyAmee with Belle and Olly
Amee with Belle and Olly

Today Vets Now, the leading national emergency vets chain, has picked the loveable staffie from thousands of other dogs to become their official pet of the year

Amee spent 12 years going through grueling fertility treatments, But, before she got Belle as a puppy two years ago, she rarely left her Woughton home due to the fear of panic attacks.

She helped trained Belle herself to be an assistance dog and recognise the signs of a panic attack, leading her owner to an exit even before the attack started.

She was allowed to accompany Amee to every midwife appointment, scan and hospital visit during the difficult pregnancy, which was complicated by gallstones and pancreatitis.

Amee Tomkins with Belle and newly-born baby OllyAmee Tomkins with Belle and newly-born baby Olly
Amee Tomkins with Belle and newly-born baby Olly

When baby Olly was born eight weeks ago, Belle had her own spot at the end of Amee’s hospital bed and was among the first to welcome the baby and check him over. Now she never leaves Olly’s side.

The super-smart Staffie now accompanies Amee and the baby out with the pram and steps in when Amee’s anxiety and OCD makes shopping difficult. She takes the bank card in her mouth and taps it on the machine to pay.

Amee, 33, said: “I wouldn’t leave the house for months, even to go to the shops or doctors’ appointments,” said Amee.

“I’d try to go but when I reached the door, I just couldn’t do it. I’m anxious about everything and with my OCD I struggle with germs, meeting people and new situations.”

“If Belle senses me getting anxious, she’ll jump up and put her head on me to rub, which is really calming,” said Amee. “She grounds me so I can take a breath and carry on.”

Amee says she wouldn’t have had the confidence to become a mum if it hadn’t been for Belle.

“She’s opened up the whole world for me, let me become a mum, and I owe her so much.”

Belle is also a therapy dog with charity Canine Concern and is part of a weekly Bark to Read programme at an MK primary school as well as attending a children’s library during the holidays.

“I could never have done any of the things I have without Belle and I’m so pleased and proud that she has won the Pet of the Year award.”

Dave Leicester, Head of Telehealth at Video Vet Now service, said: - “The whole team were incredibly moved by the huge impact Belle has had on her owner Amee.

"Belle is an outstanding example of the special bond owners can have with their pets, which goes far beyond companionship."

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