A dog rescued from the streets with fur so matted that he could barely see is now in a loving home where along with cuddles and lots of walks he also receives pocket money.
11-year-old shih tzu Rupert looked more like an Ewok when he arrived as a stray at Blue Cross pet charity’s rehoming centre in Burford, Oxfordshire.
But now he’s not just a hit with his new owners David and Doreen Connop but also the other residents he meets and greets on his daily strolls in the retirement village in Herefordshire where he lives.
The Connops, who are both in their 70s, rehomed Rupert from Blue Cross after losing their elderly dog Herbie, also a shih tzu.
Among other creature comforts, Rupert has his own money box which his owners put cash into each week for treats like a heated dog bed for winter.
Mrs Connop said: “We wouldn’t part with Rupert for anything, he’s just gorgeous.
“We were absolutely devastated when Herbie died. We only rehomed him three years earlier but we just felt that we’d done such a nice thing having an old dog. For the time we had him he wanted for nothing.
“So we thought we’d do it again and that’s how Rupert came along. I’d choose an old dog any day. For an older couple like us it means we’re not committing ourselves to 15 years or more, and the fact that people don’t want older dogs and they just sit in kennels with nobody to love them is just horrific.”
Rupert spends hours every day exploring the couple’s flower-filled garden and running about with his favourite toy – a plastic orange bowl. A fuss and cuddle on the sofa is another of his favourite pastimes and he has also become an avid television fan.
Mr Connop said: “He spent two weeks glued to the side of the television after watching a dog rescue programme – he thought the dogs were in there, he just couldn’t work it out.”
At the weekends Rupert joins the couple on family visits and loves to play with their young grandchildren.
“He’s like a puppy sometimes – he’s like lightning when he runs. I take him for a walk every morning. He definitely gets us out more which is important as I have to keep moving because of the problems I have with my leg. And as soon as I start putting my socks on he knows he’s getting a walk,” David adds.
Rupert’s fur was so filthy, badly overgrown and matted when he arrived at Blue Cross that staff struggled to tell what gender or breed he was and ended up shaving it all off.
The dog, who was unchipped, spent a week in the council pound after being found wandering the streets barely able to see through the filthy clumps of fur covering his face but when he went unclaimed he was taken back in by Blue Cross to be rehomed.
Laura Crofts, from Blue Cross Burford, said: “Poor Rupert was in such a story state when he arrived with us. It was an appalling case of neglect, and we were worried that his little soul would be shattered.
“But as soon as he was groomed and cleaned up, and he realised that he was safe, we saw the bubbly, happy and affectionate dog he was. He just loves to be around people and he made us all smile here at the centre.
“We’re so pleased that he found such a wonderful home with Doreen and David. He really did deserve a happy ending and that’s exactly what he has found.”
Doreen added: “It’s so upsetting to see how much he must have suffered before coming to us, but that will never happen again. For the rest of his life he will only know love.
“He is a very special little dog and we feel very lucky that he is ours.”
Notes to editor:
• The Blue Cross pet rehoming centre in Burford was opened in 1990, and serves the counties of Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, and Northamptonshire. There are facilities for dogs, cats and kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals. Hundreds of pets are successfully rehomed every year.
• To contact the centre call 0300 777 1570. The centre is open daily, including Bank holidays, between 11.00am and 4.00pm but is closed on Wednesdays.
• Sick, injured and homeless pets have relied on Blue Cross since 1897. Abandoned or unwanted, ill or injured, thousands of pets turn to us for help every year. Pets change lives. We change theirs.
• For more information visit www.bluecross.org.uk