Neglected husky Cinders is looking forward to a fairytale Christmas in a loving home after waiting nearly a year in kennels for a happy ending to put her miserable past behind her.

The five-year-old spent last year’s festive season with Blue Cross after being rescued as a stray in Ireland. She was dangerously close to starving to death, covered in dirt and in so much pain that she yelped to be touched.

Our Hertfordshire rehoming centre got her on the road to recovery and once she realised that she was safe, her sweet and cheeky character soon started to shine through.

The team knew that Cinders would make a wonderful companion but it seemed unlikely that she had ever lived in a home before, so we worked hard to prepare her for life as a pet while searching for her forever family.

Because of her apparent lack of domestication, and the fact that Siberian huskies need more exercise than many other dog breeds, finding her a home was a challenge – and the search took a heartbreaking 311 days.

But just like her make-believe namesake, we knew she deserved her happy ever after and we never gave up.

And it proved to be worth the wait because when Danny Gallagher and Hannah Bennett walked through the door of our Thirsk rehoming centre, where Cinders had been moved to, the team knew that they were the perfect match.

Danny said: “Once we met her we just couldn’t say no. We weren’t sure how she would adapt to living in a home but she won us over with her playful nature, and we knew we could give her the active lifestyle she needed.”

Cinders out running with Danny through fields

“Obviously it was hard to show what she would be like in a home environment, but the gamble we took paid off. She settled in straight away and has been no trouble,” said Hannah.

Cinders when she was first rescued
Cinders when she was first rescued in Ireland

“We’ve done a lot of research on making sure we’re doing right by her and not just winging it and hopefully this has paid off in her happiness."

Cinders now lives with Danny, a Gunner in The Royal Artillery, at military barracks during the week. She gets taken out running – her favourite pastime – a couple of times a day, in between plenty of fuss from everyone on site.

She has retained her “cheeky” character, but her exposure to so many situations helps her "learn her manners".

“We get up nice and early in the mornings and go for a walk or run, depending on what mood she is in. I then take her into work," said Danny.

"A lot of the people I live with are also very active so there’s always something fun for her to do and someone who wants to take her out running or play fetch with her. She fits in really well, and there aren’t too many dull moments when she’s around."

Cinders lying on the floor having a tummy tickle

Weekends, meanwhile, are spent back at home in Macclesfield with Danny and Hannah and include plenty of runs and walks, as well as the odd mountain climbing expedition.

But while she loves to be active, Cinders is equally fond of snuggles on the sofa – as was apparent on the day that Blue Cross visited her. Her transition from sad street dog to much-loved pet is remarkable.

“She is loving, greedy and a bit of a princess. She’s beautiful inside and out, we love her,” Hannah said.

And not only has Cinders brought fun, love and companionship to her owners’ lives, she also motivates them to get out and enjoy the great outdoors on even the dreariest of days.

Cinders relaxing in her new home in front of the fire
Cinders was starving and neglected when she was found as a stray, but is now in a happy home.

“It does motivate you; when it’s cold, windy and rainy outside, you still know that she still needs her run so you have to get your kit on and get her out, so it does stop you getting lazy,” Danny said.

Hannah continued: “Danny has always been very outdoorsy and active anyway so she’s fitted in absolutely perfectly with that. But having Cinders has also forced me to get back into running after a few years of not doing much of it.

“Recently Danny was away with work for about six weeks so Cinders stayed at home with me. It made me go out running and walking.

It does motivate you; when it’s cold, windy and rainy outside, you still know that she still needs her run so you have to get your kit on and get her out, so it does stop you getting lazy." Owner, Danny Gallagher

“Blue Cross matched her to us after we were originally looking at another dog, and they have got it spot on. It has completely changed our lives for the better, we’re so glad that we adopted her.”

But perhaps most rewarding for Danny and Hannah is the fact that they’ve been able to give Cinders a second chance in life when she had endured so much misery in her past.

“It’s really rewarding to have been able to give her a second chance, and see her so relaxed and enjoying life. It makes us really sad to think about what she went through,” said Danny.

Cinders out walking in the countryside surrounding her home

Hannah said: “We probably didn’t realise the magnitude until we saw the photo of her when she was found.”

Amy Younger, Animal Welfare Supervisor at our Thirsk rehoming centre, where Cinders stayed for most of her time with Blue Cross, said: “We saw so much potential in Cinders, she was such a funny character and definitely made us all smile on a daily basis.

"She very quickly became a favourite among the team and we knew that there was the perfect home out there for her somewhere, but nobody imagined that it would take quite as long as it did to find.

“We were so relieved when Danny and Hannah came to us , because we knew that she would slot in so well to their lifestyle and could match her incredible spirit and zest for life so well.

Cinders sitting on a hill looking at the views with Danny
Cinders goes out running with Danny every day

"Taking her on wasn’t without its considerations, but Danny and Hannah did their research and were committed to giving Cinders the active, enriched life that she needed.

"We couldn’t be happier to see her thriving in her own home, and being so relaxed and enjoying life as a pet so much."

Cinders will soon spend what is likely to be her first ever Christmas in a home and is set to be spoilt rotten by Danny and Hannah, who she has been with since May, as well as the wider family.

Hannah said: “We’re smitten, absolutely smitten. She makes us smile as soon as we come home. We couldn’t imagine life without her now.”

Cinders relaxing on the sofa with Danny

— Page last updated 19/12/2017