My husband was on Facebook when he came across a post that had been shared about rescue dogs. We saw a picture of Bibi who was found under a bush with seven puppies.
Some kind lady brought her to a shelter in Bulgaria where Bibi nearly died as she was so weak from looking after her puppies. I messaged them to find out if she had found her forever home, which she hadn’t, and then that was it – she was coming to the UK to be loved and cared for with us and our other dog Gunner.
Bibi was like she had been sent from an angel above
Unfortunately we lost Gunner to leukaemia over two years ago but having Bibi was like she had been sent from an angel above! She is absolutely beautiful. She has the most loving personality and has helped me so much with losing my other dog. She loves cuddles and wants to stroked all the time. She is so happy and is amazing considering what she went through.
Only a couple of weeks ago we rescued another gorgeous dog from Bulgaria where we got Bibi from to give her a play friend, which she loves. He was found chained by a wire around his neck and his fur was so long he was unrecognisable. He is now safe with us and Bibi has a play mate!
Lola is a rescue dog who has been with us a little over a year ago. She came to us this fully grown dog who still had many many puppy tendencies. We rescued her just before she got to the rehoming centre.
She is this large oaf who doesn’t realise her size, thinking she’s a lap dog. Lola loves a cosy blanket, hates being cold, wet and hates when the wind blows her ears.
Life during lockdown would have been impossible without his companionship
We still have a long way to go with training but she has changed our lives so much. She’s like a wee companion for myself and we’re either playing in the garden together, going for fun walks or cosying in bed watching a movie together. Lola loves her comforts and believe it or not, she loves the vets.
When she jumps up her paws go on your shoulders and she gives you almost a human cuddle.
Alfie the Springer Spaniel is my best friend. He loves nothing more than spending time outdoors and so we spend hours exploring forests and nature trails together. He also enjoys snuggling and snoozing, and most evenings you can find him curled up on my daughter’s bed – she’s the family member that spoils him most!
Alfie always knows how to brighten my day
He is such a well-behaved dog. Recently, I was diagnosed with a visual impairment and started to struggle both physically and mentally. Luckily for me, Alfie always knows exactly how to brighten my day – it’s almost as if he can sense that I’m having problems with my sight. He sticks closely by my side no matter where I go and always likes to make sure I’m not left alone to struggle. He is my very own adorable hero.
Georgie is a fun-loving and hilarious little character. She loves going on long adventures and exploring new things!
She has been a key part of our family ever since we got her, and she’s helped us so much through lockdown. Her constant joy brightens our day and taking her for walks has helped us to get out and about more too.
Her constant joy brightens our day
She’s such a social butterfly and just adores people. Everyone who meets her falls in love with her straight away – she’s actually made more friends at our local pub than I have!
She’s a great little snuggler and enjoys nothing more than a lie-in and a cuddle on the couch or the bed.
She’s always there for you whatever you need, with a big smile and a constantly wagging tail. I couldn’t imagine ever being without her.
Mia is a black Staffordshire Bull Terrier. She has short legs and a little white patch on her chest. I first brought her home on a cold night about five years ago, when she was just seven weeks old.
Initially, I had to hide her because my husband was against getting another dog after losing our Yorkshire Terrier. For four days she lived in my daughter’s bedroom, sneaking out for cuddles when my husband was out. If he heard her make any noises during the night, we’d have to tell him he was just dreaming!
She has helped me to cope
One day, I went to get her to take her to the vets for her booster jab. She shot out of the door, down the stairs and bounced straight onto the sofa and sat down next to my husband! I was busted, but Mia quickly won his heart and became a member of the household.
Mia has such a great personality. Some of her favourite hobbies include stealing Brussels Sprouts from the veg rack, chasing birds and enjoying treats. She sleeps beside us every night in her basket, and every year we celebrate her birthday with a doggy cake and her friends.
She’s such an important dog to me because she helped me to cope after lost my brother. She knows when I’m sad and will give me lots of cuddles and kisses. I truly believe Mia was sent to me for a reason.
I decided to get Meric Belle when we lost a previous German Shepherd and it left a massive hole in the family. My dad wanted to call her Belle, but then my grandad Michael Eric passed away. We shortened his name to ‘Meric’ and she became Meric Belle.
Meric was my first puppy and she was forever biting everyone’s ankles. Then my sister Ellie moved out and she was a bit sad not have Meric there all the time, so she went back to the kennels where we got Meric. They had a couple of dogs that they had planned to show at Crufts, but apparently Robin was too big! It turned out Meric Belle and Robin had the same dad and different mums, so they’re half brother and sister. Ellie saw Robin and he melted her heart – she didn’t even ask her boyfriend before taking Robin home!
Since then they’ve grown up together, had Christmas together, gone camping and got up to all sorts of mischief. It’s a beautiful thing that has brought us closer as a family. We’re quite an active bunch anyway, so I’ll just say to Ellie, “Shall we go and walk the dogs?” These dogs can walk up to eight miles so it’s great to go and find a woodland walk. Our dogs just make everything special. Whenever it's my birthday, she always wants to open my presents!
Meric Belle has been my shadow during lockdown, and really helped reset me whenever it all got too much
I was obviously pretty upset when the Paralympics got postponed due to Covid-19, because I was where I wanted to be, training-wise; I was getting really strong, in a really good rhythm. But in general I’m in a group of athletes who embraced lockdown and turned it into a positive. I left home and went to boarding school at 14 and haven’t had more than two weeks at home since then, so I took the opportunity to move in with my parents. It’s been so nice to spend six months of quality family time with them. Plus, I was able to keep training in my dad’s gym.
Meric Belle has been my shadow during lockdown, and really helped reset me whenever it all got too much. I’ll be working on something at the computer and she’ll just look up at me and we’ll go for a walk. She just wants to be near me – she’s always there for a cuddle with totally unconditional love. And if she really wants to get your attention, she’ll find something of yours, parade it in front of you and then run off!
When they set the Alsatians on us on SAS: Who Dares Wins, I thought 'well I’ve got two bigger German Shepherds at home!'
These past two years have been a whirlwind of amazing opportunities. Strictly was life-changing in many ways. It was great going from being really athletic to being a girly girl with lots of fake eye lashes and glitz and glamour and did great things for my body confidence.
And then with SAS: Who Dares Wins it was back to full-on athlete mode. The one thing an athlete is taught from a young age is: whatever’s going on at home, it cannot be there on the start line. So I found it quite easy on SAS to say: “Suck it up, Buttercup, and get on with it!”
When they set the Alsatians on us on SAS: Who Dares Wins, I thought, “Well, I’ve got two bigger German Shepherds at home!” I had so much to draw on and it gave me a bit of confidence to do something outside of my sport. I was running down cliff faces and had Ant Middleton pushing me out of helicopters into the sea; it challenged me more than ever before.
I would love to bring home the gold next year in Tokyo
I can’t wait to get back to a really solid schedule of training with my coach. Hopefully the race schedule will start up next year, and I would love to bring home the gold next year in Tokyo. After five years of hard work, that would be amazing. Beyond that, I’d like to do a PhD in Psychology and Behaviour Change, and this year would love to buy my first house. I like having these things outside of training to keep me happy and motivated.
Whether I'm training or doing a TV show, I love thinking, “Oh, I can’t wait to get home and see Meric Belle for a big hairy cuddle!” Nobody loves me more than Meric Belle. I’ve never seen a human react to anyone the way she reacts when she sees me, whether I’ve been away for a couple of days or a number of weeks.