AN animal lover who rescued a puppy that was discarded in front of her car on a dual carriageway says the dog saved her sanity when lockdown hit.

26-year-old Lexie Elliott first encountered Cockapoo Wilf in December 2018, when he was hurled in front of her car from a passing van, as she took a phone call in a layby.

Lexie, who runs her own PR business where she lives in Bournemouth, said: “It was dark and I had my headlights on.

“This blue van pulled up alongside me on a dual carriageway, obviously noting that I was there. The next thing I knew, this small fluffy thing was literally thrown out of the van in front of me.

“I thought it was a rabbit. I got out of the car and found a little Cockapoo puppy.”

The Dogs’ Trust checked Wilf, who was aged around 10 weeks, for a microchip. When no chip was found, they took his picture, which the Trust circulated – giving any potential owner two weeks to claim him in case he had been stolen.

Lexie added: “I think four hours into having him, he was already mine. I’d fallen in love.

Bournemouth Echo: Lexie says Wilf saved her during the pandemic. Picture: Collect/PA Real LifeLexie says Wilf saved her during the pandemic. Picture: Collect/PA Real Life

“So, when no one came forward, I kept him. It’s definitely the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me.”

The reason for him being abandoned so callously remains a mystery to Lexie, who said: “10 weeks is the age when puppies are often sold on, so it can’t have been a breeder. Surely, if you had a puppy like him and you didn’t want him, you’d take him to a rescue centre?

“None of it has ever made any sense and it remains a mystery why they did it.”

When Lexie split up with her boyfriend-of-six years, it was Wilf that helped the PR executive move on.

She said: “It was March 2020. I’d recently launched my business, I’d moved into a little one-bedroom flat, I didn’t really have friends nearby and I was trying to make money.

“The split left me with an awful lot to cope with – especially when Covid hit – and the routine of looking after Wilf and taking him for walks really gave me a structure and the motivation I needed to keep going.

“Lockdown meant I couldn’t go out to meet new people, so he was my little bestie – and still is.

She added: “There were times when I really hit rock bottom, emotionally, but Wilf saved me and kept me going.”

In the time since, Lexie has become an ambassador for the Woof & Well Awards which looks for stories of everyday heroism from owners who want to thank their dog for helping them through the last 18 months.

Lexie added: “There have been points during the pandemic when, without Wilf, I couldn’t have got out of bed, yet alone run a business.

“So, I am afraid he is far more important to me than any boyfriend.”