When Ashley Austin helped take a stray dog to the rescue kennels she had one question for her mum: “What do they do at Christmas time?”
The eight-year-old’s mother, Rebecca, told her Christmas was just another day for the missing and abandoned pets, leaving Ashley determined to give the dogs a day to remember.
The Unity Academy pupil pooled her savings and pocket money and used the cash to buy a blanket, a rubber ball and some doggy treats.
Using her school’s Harvest Festival collections as an inspiration, she decided to package the goodies in a shoebox, ready for delivery.
However, word soon got around among friends and family and they, too, began to donate goodies to the cause.
Things really took off when her 15-year-old sister Brittany advertised Ashley’s good deed on Facebook.
Within hours, scores of people had posted messages offering to make donations.
Now Ashley has 35 shoeboxes packed with everything possible to give a dog a Christmas day to remember.
Rebecca, of Victory Road, Blackpool, said: “Ashley has always loved animals and is always finding injured birds and hedgehogs, but this is something else.
“It all started when we found a Staffordshire bull terrier wandering near the new Sainsbury’s at Talbot Gateway.
“We took the dog to Sundown Kennels in Poulton and Ashley wanted to know what happened to the dogs at Christmas.
“She thought they would go to a special home where they would be spoilt and pampered and was upset when she found out nothing special was planned.
“She thought about it and decided to collect a few goodies so the dogs would enjoy Christmas Day at the kennels a bit more.
“Now she has loads of boxes ready to go and hopes to hand them all over to the kennels in a couple of weeks.
“I am very proud of what she has done .”
Each box is individually wrapped in festive paper and Ashley has included a Christmas card with the packages.
Ashley is no stranger to caring for dogs – she has two of her own at home, a collie cross called Freddie and Rose, a labrador.
Sundown Kennels takes in any abandoned or lost dogs in Blackpool, either brought in by the public or by council dog wardens.
Kennel manager Linda Williams said: “It is a fantastic thing for a young girl to do. It is very generous and will be appreciated by the dogs.
“We are very busy at this time of year and anything which keeps the dogs happy is fantastic. It was a lovely thought to want to give them a treat on Christmas Day.”
Ashley is still taking donations and hopes to fill more boxes before her visit to the kennel.
Anyone who would like to donate toys, chews, blankets or other treats can contact Rebecca on 077492 66956.