Such was the fragile mental state of brothers Max and Joe Landowski after losing a family pet, their mother feared the worst.
Oldest son Max, 27, became so consumed by grief after the death he became suicidal.
Then, along came Lemmy the magnificent mastiff whose massive personality has brought the brothers new found happiness.
For Joe, 19, who suffers from social anxiety and spent five years locked away in his room, he can now venture out to play with Lemmy.
As Lemmy was honoured with the prestigious Blue Cross Medal today, the brothers’ mother explained why their new rescue pet was a worthy recipient.
Maria Landowski, from Didcot, Oxfordshire, said losing their family dog Suzi had seen a dramatic impact on her sons’ lives but then Lemmy arrived from a Blue Cross rehoming centre.
“Lemmy has brought immense joy to our family after such a tragic event for us, and I believe he saved my both children’s lives,” she said.
“Both of my sons had become extremely depressed after the death of Suzi. My eldest son Max became suicidal. It’s the worst thing any mother can experience, seeing your own son in such a low place, it broke my heart.
“As a mother, the fact that my son is now feeling safe, secure and happy in his life and no longer feeling suicidal means so much, words cannot describe. Lemmy did that, he’s saved him.”
Since 1940 the Blue Cross Medal has traditionally been presented to working animals, with police dogs and medical detection pets the most frequent recipients for their life-saving antics.
This year the accolade was opened to family pets and judges deemed the inspirational way Lemmy saved the brothers from serious depression and suicide made him a worthy winner.
Max explained how Lemmy has changed his life.
“They say depression is a black dog, well it took a big black dog called Lemmy to help me through mine,” he said.
“I can honestly say I don’t know if I’d be here if it wasn’t for him. I was in a really bad place with my mental health and couldn’t see a way out.
“Lemmy has changed my life around, he brings me so much joy and the bond we have is the reason I get up in the mornings, I just dread to think where we would be without him. We’re thrilled to be able to give him the Blue Cross Medal, to show just how amazing he is.”
Blue Cross exexcutive Sally de la Bedoyere, one of the medal judges, says the honour recognises the important role pets play as they are friends, family and even life-savers.
She added: “Lemmy’s story really did touch our hearts. It was difficult to choose a winner as all the nominations showed how much pets enrich our lives in so many wonderful ways, but we felt this amazing pup was a true and outstanding hero.
“Lemmy’s story shows how any pet, from any background, can have an important, even life-saving, influence on their owners.
“They change our lives and that is why Blue Cross will always be around to help change theirs when they are in need.”
Blue Cross is a national charity that has been helping sick, injured, abandoned and homeless pets for over 120 years.
Nominations for the Blue Cross Medal 2019 will open later in the year.
Please check www.bluecross.org.uk/medal for more information.
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