Rugby dog trainer fights for her Crufts dream

Pictured: Nicky Murrell, who is a dog walker in obedience classes. Last July she qualified for this year's Crufts, but was later diagnosed with Lukaemia. Having now completed chemo therapy, she is now able to take her place and experience the dream she has always had - to compete at Crufts. NNL-170802-004325009

Pictured: Nicky Murrell, who is a dog walker in obedience classes. Last July she qualified for this year's Crufts, but was later diagnosed with Lukaemia. Having now completed chemo therapy, she is now able to take her place and experience the dream she has always had - to compete at Crufts. NNL-170802-004325009

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A woman from Rugby who was diagnosed with leukaemia is back on track to making her dreams come true – by competing with her dog at Crufts.

Nicola Murrell, 56, has been in professional and competitive dog obedience training for 14 years.

In July 2016 Nicola and her dog, Kenzie, who is a six-year-old black and white border collie, qualified for the obedience championships at this year’s Crufts.

Going to the prestigious dog show for Nicola was a dream come true but she quickly found her world turned upside down when she was diagnosed with leukaemia just six weeks after qualifying.

She said: “I have been doing obedience training for years. I started at the bottom and worked up right to the top. I have had several dogs and one qualified to go to Crufts. Six weeks later I was told that I had leukaemia so I have been in and out of hospital since.

“It has been my dream to go to Crufts. It kept me going to have this goal as I have never been before and it is my dog’s first time too. It is my dream to do this and we had a giant obstacle in our way.”

As well as facing the possibility of not going to Crufts, the dog trainer also had to stop her dog walking business during her treatment.

She said: “I had a really good dog walking business for six years but as I am self employed, as soon as I got leukaemia I had to stop. But I am hoping to start up again in April.”

Throughout her six months of chemotherapy, Nicola has kept her dream alive. She said: “This goal kept me going. It is my dream. I think that focus helped me to get better as well. It has been a hard six months for me and my husband but doctors say I have responded well and it is a good outcome at the moment. I kept saying to my consultant ‘Am I going to be able to compete?’.”

Now that Nicola has responded well to treatment, she is now looking forward to training for the dog obedience championships at Crufts.

She said: “I have not been able to prepare as I have been in hospital but I have been able to do little bits to keep my dog going and I am going to do my best.”

The dog obedience championships take place at Birmingham Genting Arena on March 11.