Families rush to give mutilated greyhound Norman a new home
It was a sight to cheer the heart and show that he really is putting his horrific ordeal behind him – Norman the greyhound chewing away contentedly on a large bone.
And we can also reveal that the dog whose plight has touched people across Northern Ireland could be settling into a new home as early as next month.
Goodwill messages and cuddly toys have flooded in from all over the world to the Mid-Antrim Animal Sanctuary which is caring for him.
There have also been numerous offers from families keen to 'adopt' Norman, with staff confident he will be well enough to move on in a number of weeks.
Just last week the 18-month-old former racing greyhound was discovered with his ears hacked off on the Ballycraigy Road in Newtownabbey.
Apparently, he'd been subjected to the barbaric mutilation to remove any trace of the owner ID tattooed on his ears.
He also had burn injuries on his legs and underside consistent with being thrown from a moving vehicle, and was starving.
But after surgery carried out by a local vet and lots of TLC from staff at the sanctuary, Norman is making real progress.
Perhaps astonishingly, too, given what he has been subjected to, Norman is proving a sweet-natured and kind dog who clearly wins the hearts of all those he meets.
George Anderson, chairman of the Mid Antrim Sanctuary management committee, said the entire team is thrilled with the progress Norman has made.
"He's coming round," George said. "He seems to be not as depressed as he was when he first came in.
"He's a fabulous dog, so docile, it's unbelievable. He's got a beautiful, beautiful temperament and is a very clean dog.
"We'll keep him nice and quiet until he heals and then get him a good home."
In a few weeks Norman will have the stitches in his ears taken out and then staff will choose a new home for him. His moving story, revealed by the Belfast Telegraph last week, has also thrown the plight of ex-racing greyhounds under the spotlight.
And the sanctuary has had a number of visitors to view the other five greyhounds – Leah, Mildred, Jill, Nelson, and Monty – in its care. Sheila Gormley, a kennel assistant at Mid Antrim, said that Norman was a lovely dog and a big fan of "meaty treats".
"He's brilliant," Sheila said.
"Considering everything he's been through he's quite trusting.
"He got a big jumbo raw hide bone earlier but didn't touch it until I went away.
"I looked through the window and he was chewing away, it was great to see."
Meanwhile, artist Victoria Colville from Millisle has painted an oil on linen 10x14 canvas of Norman to raise money for Mid-Antrim Animal Sanctuary to put toward his vet bills.
It is being auctioned on Facebook and so far has attracted a top offer of £285.
Victoria said: "I have a greyhound myself, so Norman's story struck a chord with me.
"I would love to give him a home, but I imagine there will be a queue of people for him and he won't be stuck for offers."
Since Mid-Antrim Animal Sanctuary opened in April 1996 it has found homes for over 7,000 animals. The charity, based on the Greystone Road, has a strict 'no kill' policy. Its team is currently caring for 44 dogs and 39 cats. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 9446 3993
To make a bid for the artwork of Norman visit www.facebook.com/midantrimanimalsanctuary