Perched sleepily on Kathy Wylde’s lap, little Baby hardly looks like a pooch with life-transforming powers.

The fluffy Cavalier King Charles spaniel is always a big attraction at Support Dogs’ events, particularly Crufts.

She sits on Kathy’s knee in her wheelchair as crowds flock over to check that she’s a real dog, and not a stuffed toy.

But there’s a reason for her sitting tight for such long periods. Kathy, now 55, has been in a wheelchair since having both legs amputated above the knee 25 years ago, and has a number of related health problems.

And because she suffers from severe phantom limb pain, Baby has been trained to sit on her stumps, and the dog’s warmth and slight pressure helps relieve the pain.

For many years after the accident that led to having her legs amputated below the knees, Kathy, who had previously led an active lifestyle, struggled to care for herself and her two young children.

In 2008, with her children grown up and moved away, she decided to get a dog as a companion. She found Baby from a breeder, and “it was love at first sight.”

The tiny spaniel was a much-loved family pet before becoming Kathy’s disability assistance dog eight years ago.

Even Kathy wasn’t sure that pint-sized pooch had what it took to help her with everyday chores.

“Before Baby became my support dog I saw a TV programme about a big German Shepherd who went shopping with his owner who was in a wheelchair, and the dog took items off the supermarket shelf, put them in the basket and even handed his owner’s purse to the checkout operator,” recalls Kathy, from Liverpool. “I thought ‘wow, that’s amazing,’ then I looked at Baby and thought ‘no, she’s too tiny’."

But Baby proved her wrong. After sailing through her assessment and training programme with Support Dogs she has shown that her size has not been a barrier to providing a life-changing service.

“She picks things up that I’ve dropped, brings me the telephone and the TV remote, helps me take off clothes with sleeves, and raises the alert when needed, “explains Kathy, who’s delighted with the impact Baby has made on her ability to remain independent.

“We’ve built up such a close bond, and I couldn’t imagine her not doing what she does.”

Over the years Baby has attended dozens of big conference with her owner, who is an elections officer for the National Union of Students, always remaining calm, placid and utterly unflappable.

And she’s accompanied Kathy during all her street collections, talks and other fund-raising events on behalf of Support Dogs.

Baby is due to retire in July although she will remain Kathy’s pet - despite friends and family all being very keen to take her on.

She says: “There is no way I would give Baby away when she officially retires. I would like a bigger Support Dog next time, but as Baby will get a say about my next dog, we’ll have to see!”