Belfast Telegraph

Lennox isn't dangerous dog to Brooke, he's her best friend

By Gail Walker

When I was a child a little girl was murdered. Fear, horror and foreboding engulfed me.

The walk home from primary school became pockmarked with potential dangers, especially after my friends went one way to their house and, alone, I headed out of sight and up a long hill to mine.

There'd be parked vehicles so I'd walk up the middle of the road, scared a door would open and I'd be gone forever.

But halfway there, my agony ended, for hoving into view while I was yet some way off was my dog Bert: all teeth, tail and fierce love, bounding towards me.

I've been thinking of that as the tragic story of Lennox plays out, and I'm haunted by the anguish that 12-year-old chronically ill Belfast girl Brooke Barnes must feel at being told her best friend must be put down. The case is a tough one. While experts say Lennox is from the banned pitbull breed, his owners maintain he's an American bull cross. He's never bitten anyone, but a dog warden noted he behaved aggressively when she tried to measure him.

I'm pretty sure Bert - a brown labrador-type with some gundog in him - would have done that too. Good-natured but nervy, he couldn't stand a uniform or any officialdom. He frothed at the mouth every time he encountered the vet.

But what a companion! Lying beside us on the floor through endless homeworks; watching over us when we were down the fields; bursting into our bedrooms as Dr Dog when we were unwell. Old comforter in the parental doghouse. Slayer of the bogeyman.

There have been many unsavoury aspects to the Lennox saga, most appallingly the threats made to dog wardens.

But the idea of a dog who hasn't actually committed a crime, separated from his owners for 500 days and so stressed his hair has fallen out, is deeply troubling too.

As is the thought of the helplessness, loss and, yes, sense of unfairness that must be engulfing little Brooke.

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