A dog trainer has paid tribute to her hero cocker spaniel who saved her from a house fire.

Kirstine Rickards was woken up in the middle of the night by her panicked dog Kikidee 12 years ago to find the attic of her house in Hove on fire.

The story made the front page of The Argus in 2012 with the headline “Dogs save owner from blaze”.

Kirstine, who runs a dog training and walking business, has paid tribute to her life-saving “best friend” who died last week aged 14.

The 58-year-old told The Argus about that fateful night as ten-foot flames destroyed much of her flat in Cambridge Grove.

The Argus: Kiki died aged 14 last weekKiki died aged 14 last week (Image: Supplied)

She said: “Kiki kept jumping on the bed, licking me ferociously and pawing at me. I thought there must be something wrong with the puppies. I went to turn on the bedside light and it blew, the whole house was dark.

“I went downstairs and the puppies were fine and then Kiki ran upstairs and I followed her. I suddenly saw flames coming from the door leading to the attic area. The flames were coming out and I thought ‘Jesus this is not a fire I can put out’.

“I was one dog short and had to go back in, Kiki was still in the house distressed because she couldn’t find her puppies so I picked her up and got her out.”

The Argus: Kiki's heroics made the front page of The Argus in 2012Kiki's heroics made the front page of The Argus in 2012 (Image: Supplied)

Kirstine managed to save all 12 dogs from her house, some of which she was looking after for customers.

Kirstine, who now lives just outside of Lewes, described Kiki as the “matriarch” of her dog-walking pack.

“I had an affinity with Kiki, the fact also she had puppies and the fact I wasn’t able to have children,” she said.

“For me to be involved in a birth of joy and love was paramount to me. We just had a connection from then.

The Argus: Kirstine out with all her dogs. Pictured on the log to the right is KikiKirstine out with all her dogs. Pictured on the log to the right is Kiki (Image: Supplied)

“She was my girl, I am a really lucky person to have held her at birth and held her as she passed away.

"She wasn’t a loud dog but was highly respected by all the other dogs that I walk.

“We went on lots of adventures me and my dogs. I have been surrounded by so much unconditional love. I wanted to speak to The Argus because I was in so much grief, I wanted to turn this around and make it a celebration of her life.”