SHE doesn't know it, but St Bernard puppy Marilyn is helping her master survive life on the transplant list.
Cancer has destroyed almost all of Wayne Carter's liver.
At 56, the Ipswich father of two is clinging to the hope he will soon get a call from his organ donor team.
As the days tick by, the former butcher distracts himself with caring for his dogs.
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Not willing to let the disease beat him, Mr Carter and Marilyn are at the Ekka chasing glory in the canine show ring this week.
The eight-month-old proved her potential a few days ago when she scored a coveted blue ribbon and the title of minor puppy bitch.
"I've just had two liver operations so I don't really get to do much anymore," Mr Carter says as he fondles Marilyn's ears.
"I haven't got much of my liver left.
"Now that I'm on the transplant list, it's 'see how it goes'."
As he lifts the 40kg pooch onto the grooming table, Mr Carter reveals how hard it was for him and his partner Stacy Guilfoyle to hear the devastating news three years ago.
"It was a shock," he says of the cancer diagnosis.
"It was like 'what do we do?'; 'How do we get past it?'.
"It's been a hell of journey."
Prepping Marilyn for her next big appearance - a shot at the puppy sweepstakes title it becomes clear how vital the giant puppy is to Mr Carter's hold on life.
"Having these dogs around is part of the journey," he says.
"If I didn't have the dogs it would probably be a different story. They help you forget about the bad things and get on with the good things."