A HEROIC dog saved its owner from a would-be thief.

Joyce Ackerley, aged 86, said her dog Axel ‘deserves a medal’ after it bit the man who was trying to rob her.

The dog, a four-year-old cross between an Akita and a German Shepherd, leapt at the attacker, sending him to the ground before biting his arm.

The pensioner said she was working in her garden in Spa Lane when the man approached her fence.

However, when she opened the gate to find out what he wanted he hit her with a wooden stick, knocking the mother-of-five to the ground.

Her dog leapt into action when the attacker reached in and grabbed Mrs Ackerley .

She said: “What he did to me I don’t want him to do to any other older person, if Axel hadn’t been there anything could have happened.”

The dog has been with the family for around three years after Mrs Ackerley adopted it.

She explained that she had initially called the dog “destroyer” because of his aggressive attitude, but that he had since calmed down and follows her everywhere.

She added: “Axel is a member of the family, he’s usually a big softie and he even sleeps in my bedroom.”

It is the second time the animal has saved the pensioner after it came to her aid when she was attacked by another dog near her home.

The former dressmaker has spent most of her life in Bolton, living in her Little Hulton home for more than 40 years.

Police are appealing for more information on the assailant, who is described as white, 5ft 5in tall and around 25-years-old, with a dragon’s tail tattoo stretching from his left forearm to finger.

Detective Constable Steven Hughes, of Greater Manchester Police’s Salford branch, said: “This lady was enjoying a spring afternoon in her garden when she was violently assaulted by a man who showed no concern when he struck the 86-year-old over the head.

“She managed to escape without serious injury, but this incident could have been much worse if her dog hadn’t stepped in and scared the offender away.

“Imagine if this was your mum or grandma. Please, if you saw something that day that could help with our enquiries, share this with police as soon as you can.

Mrs Ackerley was not taken to hospital, but ambulances and paramedics visited her home, she has since complained of memory loss following the event. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 8565471 or 101, citing incident number 1447 of 13/03/18, or anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.