Two ‘special’ dogs who have helped a Horsham mum as she battled cancer are now in line to help other people.
Teacher Rochelle Abrahams went through gruelling treatment when she was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago.
And after fighting her way back to health following chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Rochelle felt she needed help ‘just to carry on living.’
It was then that cocker spaniel Roxi joined the Abrahams family and entered Rochelle’s life. “Spaniels have to be trained so I just threw myself into it.”
And as Rochelle exercised Roxi, she found her strength growing, along with her connection with Roxi. “People said they had never seen such a strong bond between an owner and dog.”
All was going well until Rochelle was dealt a devastating new blow last year: her cancer had returned.
But after yet more harrowing treatment Rochelle’s husband Athol sugggested she get another dog.
“He said it would help take my mind away and focus on something else.”
Pup Phoebe duly arrived in the Abrahams’ Horsham household. “She made me go out and meet people,” said Rochelle, 49, who works as a cover teacher at Horsham’s Forest School.
“After losing your hair with the cancer treatment you don’t want to face people.”
Since then both Roxi and Phoebe have been a constant comfort to Rochelle.
“Both my dogs are special to me,” she said.
“My ambition at the moment is to train them to become ‘therapy’ dogs so that they can work with children with autism or with patients going through cancer - because my dogs helped me so much.”
Rochelle currently trains with Roxi three times a week at the Billingshurst Dog Training School and at Polite Paws near Dorking.
Meanwhile, Phoebe is planning to follow in Roxi’s paw prints when she’s old enough.
And she has big prints to fill: Roxi proved herself a star while showing off her canine skills by taking part in a team dog obedience display at Crufts last week.