Kayleigh Esplin believes getting her dog Lunar just before her world fell apart was meant to be.
It was October 2015 and the 19-year-old was living a normal life as an HND student in contemporary art at Dundee and Angus College’s Arbroath campus.
Her Aunty Katrine’s dog became pregnant for the one and only time in her life and Kayleigh decided to take one of the black Labrador puppies home to Letham.
Little did she know just how important Lunar would prove to be.
“I think she was meant to come into this world to help me through,” says Kayleigh.
Three months later, in January 2016, Kayleigh became ill.
She started experiencing joint instability and also suffered complications with her heart, digestion and nervous system.
Kayleigh became immobile but was able to complete the course from her bed.
The symptoms persisted and it was thought she may have had chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
“These conditions are quite common but not well known,” she says. “I think I was the one who actually taught the doctor about them.
“Being ill I lost most of my friends but I managed to gain some new ones from social media with those also going through this.
“There’s thousands out there who have the same thing.”
‘She is perfect for me’
Now aged 24, Kayleigh is still unable to work or enjoy the same physical mobility as her peers.
But she has Lunar, one of her coping mechanisms.
“It’s been five years of chronic illness now and I can’t imagine how much worse those five years would have been without her,” says Kayleigh.
“Much more lonely, that’s for sure.
“She is so laid back, chilled and happy, she is perfect for me.
“She is okay if I am unable to take her for a walk on one day, but can also go for a walk whenever I feel like it.
“She is happy to sit and cuddle with me. She has always been just perfect.”
Art is also there for Kayleigh.
She is able to bypass the exhausting process of setting up pencils, paints and paper by using her iPad.
“I can lie in bed and draw as though it is on paper,” Kayleigh says.
“If I have a bad day I sit and draw. I like to take photos of me when I am really ill and paint them.
“Most people are able to use exercise to let out their anger but I can’t do this so I find drawing is a really good way of doing this.”
Kayleigh says conventional medicine does little to relieve her symptoms but has been slowly improving by focusing on deficiencies in her diet.
“I want to raise awareness about my condition because it is more common than people might think.”
This article is part of a series for The Courier and Evening Telegraph about people who owe a debt of gratitude to their dog.
We want to talk to more pet owners whose canine companion has helped them come through a tough time in their life.
If you live in Dundee, Tayside or Fife and want to pay tribute to your poochie pal (or pals) please email email@example.com.