Owner: Anne Flynn, from Bray, Co Wicklow
Animal: Archie, a lively black Labrador
Background: Anne has been Archie's regular dog walker for the past six months
Anne has always liked dogs, but had never had the time or space in her life to have one of her own. She was either working or busy rearing young children. She'd seen friends getting dogs in situations that weren't right and it never worked out well. The dogs ended up frustrated because they weren't getting enough attention and the humans ended up wishing that they'd never taken on the animals.
Yet Anne loved going for walks with other people's pets.
It was just by chance that she came across Archie. He's a big, friendly animal who loves his daily walk and he belonged to a lady called Angela, a friend of one of Anne's friends. Angela fell ill last summer, and had to go into hospital.
She had managed to find someone to look after Archie in her absence, but this temporary family was unable to take him out for his usual exercise. The word had gone out in Angela's social circle: could someone take Archie for a walk every day?
When Anne was asked if she'd be interested, she hesitated. Archie was a big bouncy dog with a larger-than -ife personality. Would she be able to cope with his energy and enthusiasm? And if she let him off the leash in a safe spot, would he come back?
She decided to take him on a trial walk. To her delight, she discovered that walking Archie was easy and enjoyable. He happily walked beside her when on the leash and when she was in a safe open area, she was able to let him off the leash without him doing anything silly. He sniffed around, charged madly up and down for a while, then came back to her side when she called him. And at the end of the walk, Archie seemed grateful to Anne; he hopped into the back of her car, wagging his tail and looking at her with a gleam in his eye.
Anne was hooked from day one, and a new routine was established. She'd pick up Archie, take him for an hour-long walk, and deliver him home afterwards. Everyone was happy. Anne loved the chance to enjoy the open air with an enthusiastic animal, Archie was thrilled to have his exercise with a new friendly human in his life and Angela was relieved that her dog was able to have a fulfilling daily routine.
The months passed by, and sadly, Angela's illness progressed. Archie was her faithful companion throughout, sitting by her bed, gazing at her with his gentle brown eyes. He loved his walks with Anne, but Angela was the centre of his life.
Sadly, Angela passed away in May. Anne continued to take Archie for his regular walks, but she couldn't keep him as a full-time pet.
Another shout-out in Angela's social circle came up with the answer. The ideal place was found for Archie, deep in the Wexford countryside, living with a cross-bred collie and a doting owner. Archie left for his new home last weekend and Anne misses him hugely. Archie will be a hard act to follow, but if someone else has a dog needing a daily stroll, Anne might be happy to help.
Visit Pete's website at www.petethevet.com