An inspirational young wheelchair bound Cork woman, who credits her dog with saving her life, has appealed for the public’s help in making the pooch the new Nose of Tralee.
The former nurse lay unconscious for 48 hours before she was found and brought to Cork University Hospital for treatment.Sarah Clifford became partially paralysed two years ago when she slipped on some water in her home and hit her head on a marble fireplace.

She remained in the hospital for six months, undergoing 28 surgeries.

“The accident left me on life support and in full organ failure. I was on a life support machine for a month and when I woke up I was paralysed in my left leg. I had 28 surgeries, dialysis and much more,” she said.

“I was in CUH for six months and when I got home I felt very lonely.”

The 30-year-old, who was born in Dublin and now lives in Clonakilty,  eventually decided to get a Shihtzu called Freya.

“I have had several animals over my life but I had never experienced a bond and love so strong. Quickly, with her intelligent intuition, she basically became an untrained service dog,” said Sarah.

“She protects me and my health in every way possible… but most of all she has saved me from the depression that inevitably comes with becoming wheelchair bound at 28. She wakes me at night if I’m in pain, she licks my paralysed side when it’s sore, and she has learned how to use my emergency call bell if I fall.”

While Sarah admits every pet owner thinks their animal is amazing, she described the dog as “my life, my everything” and has put Freya forward to become the Nose of Tralee, a pet competition run by Pet Sitters Ireland around the same time as the Rose of Tralee every year.

“Freya gives me happiness I never knew imaginable and I can’t imagine ever being without her,” said Sarah.

“There are a lot of amazing stories of rescue dogs up for the Nose Of Tralee, but in this case I didn’t rescue, I was rescued. Freya has been a godsend and there is nothing in life I’m more grateful for.”

To vote for Freya, go to https://www.wishpond.com/lp/1756154/entries/124510490.