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.
We bought Maia because everything in our life was going so right, and the only thing that was missing was her! We went around and looked at a few litters, but nothing felt right until she climbed into our arms. I was never allowed pets growing up, so to have her in my life now is a love I never knew. She is so loving and loyal. Truly one of a kind, she loves to lie at one end of the room rolling the ball to me and enjoys laying on the sofa with her head in my lap.
One of a kind
She’s the best dog a person could ask for. She pulls us up on our down days and brings us higher on our good ones. A dog is the only thing in life that loves you more than itself.
We rescued Wolfie six months ago, and since then he has made our life so much better and happier. Wolfie is perfectly trained, super intelligent and has managed to learn six new tricks even though he is an old dog! He is sensational at the park and we often get stopped because people want to say hello and take pictures of him. He even comes with me to work and is our office pet.
Everyone that meets him loves him
He also has the cheekiest but funniest personality. You would never guess that he’s 10 years old, and everyone that meets him loves him. He adores playing with all dogs in the park and sometimes forgets how big he is – it’s so funny seeing him play with a tiny puppy!
He is affectionate and loves children, and has made our little family so much happier.
Pepsi is a 9-month-old female border collie. We knew that she was a great dog, but she really proved that when Walt, my ambulance technician partner, got COVID-19. I'm a community nurse so I looked after him at home for four days. Pepsi sat on the decking below his bedroom window listening to him cough. He was so ill that he was unable to move. She couldn't understand what was happening.
After four days, he really deteriorated and was admitted to a hospital 80 miles away. I was lost. I didn't know if I'd ever see him again alive. I didn't want to get up – the days were too long and scary. However, I knew Pepsi needed me so we sat in the garden and played ball. If I cried after seeing Walt on a videocall she would jump up and cuddle me.
Life is on the up again
Walt began to give up the fight in the hospital. He hated being away from us and he was so ill with the constant cough and fatigue. We sent videos of the dog and encouraged him to stay strong so he could come home to his ‘therapet’ (we always called her that). When he was finally discharged, she rarely left his side and I know he needed her every bit as much as he needed me to nurse him.
Now, Pepsi is his reason to fight the fatigue and get out. She has recently learned to swim, so we go places where Walt can just sit and watch her play.
I know every dog is their owner’s best friend but Pepsi is an ace dog who has really earned her ‘therapet’ nickname. We love her. She loves us. Life is on the up again.
My dear husband Pete lost his fight for life on Saturday 25th January 2020. We had been together for almost 32 years.
Naturally I have been devastated and lonely since my loss. I have two dogs Trixey, a Doberman Pinscher, and Detchko, a Yorkshire Terrier.
My husband and I rescued Trixey when she was just over 15 months’ old. Trixey then went with us to Babbington Rescue Centre where she selected Detchko.
I am so grateful for their companionship and love as it makes the long and lonely days feel a little brighter
Trixey is a very sensitive and highly intelligent dog. She immediately sensed that there was something wrong. I feel she must have communicated this to Detchko as she was making strange sounds and a different type of bark.
For the past couple of months, she has always been by my side and has given such an out pouring of love that one cannot begin to imagine.
Without Trixey and Detchko by my side I would be a very lonely old age pensioner. I am so grateful for their companionship and love as it makes the long and lonely days feel a little brighter.
We have a long, emotional story, but I will try to keep it short. I got Bryn when I was going through a bad time personally. My whole world fell apart – job, house and marriage – and he really did keep me living. We soon became inseparable and I began to find myself again. He kept me on my toes with his mischievous ways and made me laugh every day.
Living our best life
In 2015 Bryn was diagnosed with epilepsy (a strange coincidence, as I also have epilepsy). At first I thought I was going to lose him, but after a few weeks of meds, I started to see the old Bryn return. Since then, we’ve been living our best life, climbing mountains, moving out of our old town and eventually getting my dream job working with animals (Bryn comes to work with me!).
In the last couple of years Bryn’s condition has got worse, but I have been so lucky to be able to take him to work with me so I don’t worry about leaving him alone. I very rarely go anywhere without him.