Lifesaver Stitch looking to fetch Nose of Tralee title

Cancer survivor Courtney Smith with her beloved Stitch.

A LOVING pup, who helped his owner fight and beat an aggressive form of cancer, is looking for the people of Limerick to get behind him in his race to being named top dog.

One-year-old Stitch, a Maltese and Bichon Frise mix, has been selected to represent Limerick in this year’s Nose of Tralee competition, where he will look to beat out 31 other furry friends from across the country all looking to fetch the coveted title.

The playful pup was adopted by Rhebogue woman Courtney Smith in August of last year, shortly after she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a form of cancer affecting the lymphatic system – as a means of coping with the difficult news.

“I was one month into chemo and I was just getting so down in myself because my hair was coming out and I just didn’t know how to react, so we just decided ‘why don’t we get a dog’,” said the 22-year-old, who was featured on the pages on the Limerick Post earlier this year.

“We never had a dog before, so we didn’t know what that was going to be like. Then a friend of my uncle’s had puppies and was looking to sell them on. So Stitch came into our lives in August last year and he’s been my best friend ever since.”

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Speaking about her experience going through chemotherapy, Courtney says beloved companion Stitch was “always by my side. Even though he was a puppy, he knew if I was sad and he was there by my side trying to make me feel better.”

In a strange twist, Courtney says that it wasn’t the hair loss from her chemotherapy that spurred her on to shave her head during her treatment, it was the brazen Stitch.

“My hair was coming out everywhere and Stitch ended up eating it all, so I decided in October I have to shave my head for him, because obviously eating hair isn’t healthy.

“That’s love, I guess,” she added, laughing.

“I was afraid he wouldn’t recognise me or even want to be near me, but that didn’t matter to him. He could see how hard it was for me to process and he comforted me through it.”

In the month’s since Stitch walking into her life, Courtney has been given the all clear by doctors and says she is delighted with her clean bill of health.

“Stitch saved my life when I was going through my cancer diagnosis,” she says. “I would be lost without him. I wouldn’t have gotten through this last year if it wasn’t for Stitch.

Now, as a way of sharing with the nation the love and care Stitch has shown to her in her time of greatest need, she is calling on the people of Limerick to share a little love of their own with him in the Nose of Tralee competition.

Votes can be cast for this year’s Nose of Tralee on, with voters allowed to cast the ballot for their favourite furry friend once per day until August 21.