Belfast Telegraph

A happy home and doggie spa days, rescued Skipper is now a pampered pooch

By Rebecca Black

From down and out to in demand, a dog rescued from his cruel owner has found his happy ever after thanks to the Belfast Telegraph.

The story of Skipper, a two-year-old retriever cross, who had been beaten by his former owner, touched so many hearts among our readers that Crosskeenan Animal Sanctuary was inundated with people interested in rehoming him.

He came to Crosskeenan last year after a women spotted a man beating him as she drove along the Shore Road in north Belfast.

She intervened and was bitten by the man for her trouble.

But afterwards Skipper was taken away by police and brought to Crosskeenan.

Crosskeenan founder Lyn Friel said when he arrived he was covered in cuts and was emaciated.

But he has had a remarkable turnaround after some loving care and attention, and is now full of energy and healthy.

She was so taken with him that she convinced us at the Belfast Telegraph to help her find the lively young boy a new home.

Skipper has truly landed on his feet with an active family home in rural Co Down, and has even enjoyed his first dog spa treatments.

Mum-of-three Ellen Fenton has a 14-year-old collie and said her and her family had been considering taking on a second dog.

When they saw Skipper in the Belfast Telegraph, they all fell in love and the whole family-of-five went to Crosskeenan to meet him.

"His story really touched us and he looked like a really lovely dog, so we went up there, all five of us," she said.

"He immediately took to all of us and went round each individually and sat with us.

"He just seemed like a really happy dog.

"We collected him last week and he has settled in really well.

"He is very good, he sometimes gets a little anxious when we would leave the room, but I think in time he will grow more confident that this is his forever home."

Ellen took him to a dog spa for a grooming and pedicure recently and said he was very taken with the process.

"He's a pampered pooch already," she laughed.

As well as looking for a home for Skipper, Lyn also appealed for help to care for the sanctuary's horses last month.

She had reached crisis point trying to care for 180 horses as well as a litter of puppies, Skipper and some rescued cats.

Due to the sheer numbers of horses she had been faced with the heartbreaking prospect of having to put some of the animals down - which when she set up Crosskeenan in 1996 she never thought she would do.

Lyn issued a cry for help via the Belfast Telegraph and in response our generous readers not only donated £14,000-plus, but some even offered up their own gardens as accommodation for some of the horses. The sanctuary has also secured more volunteers and more land to keep the horses on.

However, Lyn said it is not out of the woods yet and said any more help would be greatly appreciated.

She particularly needs help from people who are experienced with horses, have spare stables, land with shelter to accommodate horses on, or can donate either money or time through volunteering at Crosskeenan.

  • Crosskeenan Lane Animal Sanctuary is holding a thank you event for Belfast Telegraph readers who responded to its appeal today from 1pm to 3pm. The sanctuary is located at 26 Crosskennan Lane, Antrim, BT41 2QY. Tel 028 9446 5384


In December Crosskeenan Lane Animal Sanctuary in Antrim issued an urgent appeal for help through the pages of the Belfast Telegraph. As the sole sanctuary for horses in Northern Ireland, Crosskeenan has been inundated with rescued horses.

In response to our article and video on our website, Crosskeenan received more than £14,000 in donations as well as recruiting some new volunteers. However, the charity's Lyn Friel warns it's still struggling and would welcome more help.

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