A DEAF and blind woman from Crewe was a VIP guest at Crufts 2006 to help celebrate 75 years of guide dog training in the UK.
Dual-purpose dog owner Angela Hassall, with her special companion Roddy who acts as her ears and eyes, were guests at a reception held at the world's biggest dog show on Friday to commemorate the milestone.
Angela, 47, joined a parade of guide dog owners, puppy walkers and other volunteers around the famous show ring.
Roddy is the first-ever dual guide dog for someone blind and deaf and he has transformed Angela's life.
She said: 'He means so much to me - he is a very special dog.'
Angela, who has been deaf since she was eight-years-old, applied for her first hearing dog 12 years ago. Since then she has had two hearing dogs, Buster and Darvo.
But in 1999, she began to lose her sight, and with it her confidence, as she found it increasingly difficult to get out and about.
A VERY SPECIAL DOG: Angela Hassall and her remarkable dual-purpose guide dog Roddy.
She explained: 'Life was very depressing before I had Roddy.
'It was very hard for me to communicate with people.'
It was then that she got in touch with Hearing Dogs for the Deaf to ask about the possibility of training a dual purpose dog.
This marked the start of a unique collaboration between Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs.
Finding the right dog was the first challenge the two charities faced - as Guide Dogs look for dogs that are calm and who don't react to noise, whilst Hearing Dogs look for inquisitive dogs who do react to noise!
Roddy, who was in early training to become a guide dog, was selected. His training included learning to alert someone to household noises such as alarm clocks, doorbells and smoke alarms.
He was also taught special skills to prepare him for his unique role, including to lie gently on Angela's feet, where she can feel him.
Angela added: 'Now I have Roddy people talk to me a lot more and I have joy in my life again.
'My future is much brighter than it was and I am so much happier because of him.' nGuide Dogs relies entirely upon donations. If you would like to help please call 0870 600 2323 or visit the website www.guidedogs.org.uk