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#NationalDogDay: BBC's Cecilia Daly has life brightened up by dog left to die in forest

Broadcaster tells how abandoned pup Pedro transformed her and her partner's world

By Paul Higgins

Published 26/08/2016

Broadcaster Cecilia Daly with Pedro
Broadcaster Cecilia Daly with Pedro
Cecilia Daly presenting the weather on BBC NI
Victoria McDowell with adopted dogs Suzy and Alfie

A dog that was left cruelly abandoned in a cardboard box in a forest has proven to be a ray of sunshine for weather forecaster Cecilia Daly.

Pedro - a beautiful black Labrador - was found in the box in Belvoir Forest in south Belfast last September, half starved to death and riddled with fleas and diarrhoea.

Erin Donnelly with Assisi rescue dog Christie
Erin Donnelly with Assisi rescue dog Christie
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Karen Davis and Dexter
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Clayre Thompson and four-year-old Ruby
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Laura Pue and Harley in Co Down celebrating National Dog Day
Julia D'Arcy and her 11-year-old dog Roxie taking shelter from the summer storms in Cloughey, Co Down

He had been stuffed in the box with eight brothers and sisters, and would have died if he had not been found.

But after feeling under the weather, Pedro is back to his big, bouncy self after being re-homed by Cecilia and her partner, Simon Flanaghan, who live in Belfast.

<It's #NationalDogDay. Send us selfies with your canine friends here>

"It really upsets me sometimes to think what could have happened, but it's been brilliant to be able to give him the opportunity of a loving home," the weather forecaster said. "Yes, there's a fair bit of work involved, but what you get back makes up for it big time - Pedro is part of the family and we wouldn't have it any other way.

"He's great and 'big' is definitely the word - but he really notices things and it's funny because myself and Simon are discovering everything through his eyes.

"Simon had been on at me for about 18 months over getting a dog and I just kept putting him off, really.

"But one day he announced that we were going to an animal rescue place to have a look and the next thing was we were at the home of a fosterer looking at Pedro with his brothers and sisters."

Once Pedro was old enough, had all his vaccinations and Cecilia and Simon had been cleared in a home visit, the puppy moved in with his new family.

"We don't have children, so it's like having a child," said a doting Cecilia. "It's not easy, but what you get in return is immense and fantastic - unconditional love. We had to change our lives and lifestyle a bit. We can't do things like go for a drink or a meal after work, because you have to remember Pedro needs to be fed and walked.

"But then the positive of that is that we have discovered parks and lovely little places that we wouldn't have necessarily bothered with and exercise is always good for you."

For Pedro, nothing makes him happier than being off the lead with a stick - preferably the largest he can find - in his mouth, running around and being free.

But for Suzy the shih tzu - another dog rescued by Assisi Animal Sanctuary in Conlig, recovery is taking a little longer.

Suzy probably had not even walked on grass before she was rescued. She was removed from a puppy farm in south Armagh a few months ago, battered, bruised and a mere shadow of the dog she is now.

Her claws were so overgrown she found it difficult to walk, her back end was badly bruised and swollen from being kicked, and when she was rescued examining vets thought she may have been pregnant because her stomach was so bloated.

That transpired to be a foreign body trapped inside her stomach and intestine, causing the tissues to inflame.

Victoria McDowell, from Newtownards, already had Alfie the shih tzu when she decided to adopt Suzy. She said: "She's doing great now and is coming on really well, but she's still a bit jumpy and scared of things at times. But Suzy is coming round now.

"I would definitely say it's better to 'adopt, don't shop,' to give an older dog another chance in life."

Acting manager of Assisi Animal Sanctuary Alan Andrews said that while Pedro and Suzy were two success stories, the centre was continuing to rehome up to 40 dogs a month, with approximately a further 150 unwanted dogs being transferred from council pounds to the Dogs Trust.

"I think people don't understand that dogs can live anything up to 15 years or so, and they don't have that long-term figure in their heads," said Alan.

He added that before anyone considers having a dog as a pet "they need to give serious consideration to what having a dog entails".

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