An unlucky terrier known nationally as ‘Britain’s most unwanted dog’ has finally found a loving owner to cuddle up to.
Benji the 11-year-old Patterdale Terrier spent eight years of his life at Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary in St Annes after being repeatedly turned down by families because he suffers from diabetes and needs an insulin injection every 12 hours.
Media coverage last year transformed him overnight into the most in-demand dog in the countryafter The Gazette highlighted his plight, and now at last he is settled into a new home with a large bed to call his own.
Kind-hearted former police communications officer Susan Christian, 64, adopted Benji at the start of February after falling in love with his tragic story.
Susan, from Thornton , said: “When the story came out about Benji my friend said to her mum, ‘Do you think Susan would take Benji because he’s been there for eight years and he’s a sorry little thing’, and I said OK.
“I went to the sanctuary and they took him out of his cage. He had a muzzle on because of his bad eyesight, he senses people he doesn’t know and he can’t see them so he growls. I started tickling him and he got friendly and the staff were pleased with how he was acting. Once they made sure I was the right person they let me take him home.
“He’s been such a little trooper. He loves travelling in the car, he loves his big bed and he just toddles around after me. He’s delightful.”
Miss Christian, who works at chronic pain support group Blackpool Smile at Marton United Reform Church, added that Benji was settling in well to his new home - and is even sporting a smart new haircut.
She said: “I don’t suppose he had had a bath for some time so I gave him a bath on Sunday and clipped a few grey hairs. I wrapped him up in a big towel like a baby and he just fell asleep in my arms.
“He’s saving me a fortune because every time I put the heating on he starts panting so I have to turn it off. I’m walking around like I’m in Russia!
“He just needs a bit of love. I’m hoping he’ll eventually settle down and I’ll be able to leave him alone in the house; he doesn’t like being away from me so I’ll cover him up with a blanket in the car when I go out. He just falls asleep.
“He’s good as gold with his injections and he has to take an arthritis pill once a day, which he thinks is a treat. Easterleigh have said that they will continue to pay for his medication which is very generous of them because they are in a bad state at the moment.”
Marc Cartmell, staff worker at Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary, said: “When a dog like that goes it just makes your week. We’ve all been ecstatic about it.
“I was dubious about whether he would find a home after so long, but I have seen dogs that have been here for five or six years go to new homes. I think there’s somebody out there for every dog no matter what their problems are. Benji would have a go at anyone but once he gets to know you he’s lovely and cuddly and affectionate.
“It’s strange to see his pen empty on a morning but you know he’s gone to a better place. He’s definitely very happy in his new home.”
Easterleigh is currently trying to re-home all of its remaining animals as it is being evicted from its site.
Around 20 animals remain at the sanctuary, with around 80 re-homed in recent weeks after The Gazette brought the centre’s plight to light.