THE word "superhero" is typically reserved for fictional characters in films and comic books.

But there really is no other word to describe 14-year-old Robbie, from Doonfoot.

Robbie, though, is no human superhero, but a Border collie – and, as we found out when we got the chance to meet him and his owner, there's no shortage of ways in which he is a particularly special pooch.

Robbie has saved more than one child from being killed or seriously injured, and is also a fully qualified ‘therapet’.

In fact, so good is Robbie at helping to bring comfort and happiness to the people he meets that he was recently named ‘therapet of the year’ at the Canine Concern Scotland awards, ahead of 14 other nominees.

That would be reason enough to feature Robbie in the Advertiser – but as his owner, 71-year-old Marilynn Killen, told us, there are plenty more reasons why Robbie’s story is a particularly special one.

Robbie first came to Marilynn as a six-week-old puppy – but he only became a ‘therapet’ after a chance meeting while he and Marilynn were attending the famous Crufts show.

Marilynn told the Advertiser how one woman taking part in the event noticed Robbie’s “amazing temperament” – and encouraged her to register him as a Pets As Therapy dog.

Marilynn duly did so – and Robbie passed the exam with a score of 100 per cent.

Marilynn then became aware of Canine Concern Scotland’s Therapet programme, and signed Robbie up straight away.

He was examined again, and again he passed with a 100 per cent score – and since then Robbie has been an active Therapet across South Ayrshire.

He began supporting adults with learning difficulties in Girvan, before completing another exam, which he passed with, you guessed it, 100 per cent – meaning  he was able to work with children.

He has also worked at Ailsa Hospital, supporting patients across six wards and having an impact on countless lives.

Marilynn told of one woman who so took to Robbie that she’d sit outside the hospital waiting for him on the days he was due to visit.

Robbie made such an impact on that particular woman that he was asked to go to her funeral – because she’d described him as “her best friend”.

The brilliant Border collie has also supported children at Carnegie Library in Ayr as they look to advance their reading skills, with Robbie’s visits and affection used to provide an incentive for the young people taking part.

He visits schools across Ayr and Troon, too, and has become a “best friend” to many children in their times of need.

And while he’s not always “on the clock”, Marilynn revealed that Robbis has sprung into action to help children even when he’s not actually working – and that on one occasion he literally saved a child’s life.

Marilynn described how she was out walking Robbie and two of her other dogs when a child, no older than two or three, came racing past on their scooter.

The scooter hit a puddle and the toddler was sent flying over the handlebars – landing face down in a puddle of water and at serious risk of drowning.

“Superhero Robbie ran over to the child," Marilynn explained, "and put his head under the child’s chin and lifted his head out of the water.

"Robbie then leaned back and placed the child’s head under his chin on his chest and backed out of the puddle with them.

“When the child’s eyes eventually opened I expected a scream, but they just smiled at Robbie.

“Robbie saved that child’s life. I didn’t say or do anything. He had got there first and took the child out of danger of his own intuition.

“I have no credit. It’s just his temperament.

“I have never seen anything in this life that fazes him. The intuition that Robbie displays in remarkable.”

And that wouldn’t be the last time that Robbie rushed in to protect young lives either.

Marilynn described how another dog approached her and Robbie while they were out on ‘therapet’ duties with a group of schoolchildren.

The other dog had run away from its owner and, in Marilynn’s words, was “growling and baring its teeth” and looking like it was about to attack the children’s legs.

But up stepped her superhero Robbie, who got himself between the children and the threat and fended off the other dog until the children could walk a safe distance away.

“No aggression, just determination,” Marilynn added. “Robbie then backed away, facing down the dog, who ran back to its owner.”

Robbie’s intervention came as no surprise to Marilynn, who said she knows it’s just in his nature to protect children.

“For him it’s not about cows and sheep," Marilynn explained. “It’s human beings – that’s what he loves.

“Both times I didn’t ask him for anything. He chose to behave in that way to protect the children.

“He’s very protective of young lives.

“He’s just my boy and I love him.”