Crufts 2023: Dog who ‘saved woman’s life’ after motorbike crash goes on to perform at Crufts in Birmingham

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A woman says her dog "saved her life" by giving her a purpose when a motorbike crash left her suicidal - and now the pair are performing together at Crufts.

A woman who felt ‘isolated and cut off’ after a motorbike crash said her dogs helped to save her life - and now she’s taking one to Crufts in Birmingham this year. Sofie Hawkins, 25, says her Chihuahua and Miniature Pinscher crossbreed, Harleigh, 18 months, helped her to recover after the accident left her not wanting "to be here anymore”.

Sofie from Chippenham, Wiltshire was knocked off her motorbike in August 2021 and suffered severe injuries - including seven broken ribs and a punctured lung. Due to temporary paralysis in her left arm which lasted for three months, Sofie was forced to quit her job as a lorry driver.

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She also had to give up many of her hobbies, including gymnastics, pole dancing and horse riding - which left her feeling “very lonely and cut off” from friends. It led to a psychologist recommending she consider getting an emotional support dog and in November 2021, she found pup Harleigh. The pooch has attended all of Sofie’s hospital, physio and counselling appointments during her recovery and gives her "the motivation to get up in the morning".

In April 2022, Sofie entered Harleigh into a dog show in Newbury, Berkshire, where she won prettiest female. Off the back of her triumph, Harleigh qualified for Crufts - the world’s largest dog show - this Saturday 11 March, where she will battle it out alongside other contestants for the crown of Prettiest Female.

Sofie said: “It doesn’t matter how Harleigh does on Saturday, I’m just proud of her for how far she’s got. She gives me the motivation to get up every single day, and she helps bring me out of bad places.

“If it wasn’t for Harleigh I would not be here today. My life has changed since the accident, but I am very thankful to Harleigh for saving me time and time again.”

Sofie Hawkins and her dog, Harleigh.Sofie Hawkins and her dog, Harleigh.
Sofie Hawkins and her dog, Harleigh. | Sofie Hawkins / SWNS

How to watch Crufts 2023: 

Crufts 2023 is being shown on Channel 4, hosted by Clare Balding along with Sophie Morgan and Radzi Chinyanganya. On Saturday, March 11, it will be on at 3pm and again at 7pm.

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