'Heartbreaking moment I had to say farewell to best bud' - Belfast man who carried dying pet to favourite spot for final walk
The devoted dog owner who carried his dying pet up Belfast's Cavehill has spoken of the heartbreaking moment his pet was put to sleep.
Dave Wright (31) and his loyal hound George were inseparable after he was rescued as a young pup. The Belfast man said his final farewell to the 15-year-old Border Collie on Wednesday, days after the pair took their last journey together to George's favourite spot on Cavehill.
Describing him as his "best bud", Dave said he was devastated when he had to make the agonising decision to put him to sleep after he became old and increasingly unwell.
"He wasn't eating and was being sick. His kidneys weren't functioning properly, so it was his time to go," Dave said.
Life could have been very different for George. As an unwanted pup, he had spent his early days alone on a balcony in a small flat in north Belfast.
At only three-months-old, a shy and timid George was handed over to Dave's friend, who passed him on in turn.
"I was never allowed a dog before that - but my mum was away for the weekend so I took him home," said the Cavehill man.
"We called him George because he was just like a human. He was quite shy and timid, but after a while he got better.
"Me and George went everywhere together. We used to go for a walk for an hour and a half every morning."
On the days Dave went to college in Belfast, loyal George would sit at the bus stop at 4pm waiting for his best pal to return home. Dave and his four-legged friend went everywhere together and often took trips to Newcastle in Co Down, when George would sit in the scooter's footwell.
"When I passed my driving test I got a bigger bike and I thought there was no way he would come with me any more, but as soon as I started the engine he jumped on the back.
"I used to take him to Cavehill every morning and evening - he loved it there We explored every inch of it. He's my best bud, he has never been apart from me. He's always been there.
"At night I used to bring him on to my bed and talk to him like a counsellor."
After George became increasingly unwell and refused to eat, Dave rushed him to the PDSA, a veterinary charity on the Antrim Road.
The vet told a heartbroken Dave that George was too old to undergo tests for bowel cancer or irritable bowel syndrome.
"They gave him steroids for a week and special food. It worked for a few days, but then he wasn't interested in food any more.
"George loved chicken and ham, so when I cooked chicken for him and he turned his nose up at it I knew he had lost all interest in food."
George was put to sleep on Wednesday with a heartbroken Dave by his side.
He added: "The vet couldn't find his vein but when they found it and put the needle in to put him down I said to him, 'You're going up Cavehill now'.
"His eyes and ears pricked up a little bit and then that was him - he was gone."