Rescue dog becomes first therapy pooch in Sidmouth after being brought back from brink of death
PUBLISHED: 18:24 23 September 2017
A rescue dog who was found on the brink of death in a Romanian street is quickly becoming one of Sidmouth's most popular residents.
At just a few weeks old, Cyrus was scooped up from the side of the road in Brasov, Transylvania, when charity volunteers happened to drive past and spotted him.
The collie/lurcher-cross was nursed back to health thanks to the charity Romanian Underdogs before he was flown to the UK where Sue Howes and her husband John were ready to offer him a forever home.
Now aged four, Cyrus, who has been winning the hearts of all those he meets, has turned his paw to helping people who need him most and has become the first-ever therapy dog in Sidmouth and the surrounding area.
Volunteers for Romanian Underdogs found Cyrus as a tiny puppy, covered in fleas, with worms and barely alive.
The pup spent the next five months with the charity, which has been working hard to change the way stray animals are treated in Romania.
Sue, 67, who was already an advocate of the charity, spotted a picture of Cyrus online and decided to sponsor him.
She added: “I just fell in love with him; there was just something about his face.”
Sue then discovered Cyrus was one of the dogs being brought back to the UK, once he was old enough.
“At the time we were in the middle of being driven out of our home by the Government in Buckinghamshire - they wanted to build a railway,” Sue told the Resident. “It wasn’t the right time to have another dog, but he was just right for us.
“When we first met him he was a bit sheepish - he hadn’t liked coming over in the transit van with the other dogs, so was a bit fed up.
“He definitely knew he was destined for bigger things and, so far, we had all failed him.”
Cyrus spent a year in Buckinghamshire before his family, which included Barney and Button, who are both collie-crosses, moved to Sidmouth.
“He has helped us settle in and meet all our neighbours – they don’t really know us, but they know Cyrus.”
Sue said everyone who met Cyrus wanted to say hello, so they were constantly being stopped. When she saw how much people benefited from petting him, she decided to see if Cyrus could become a Pets As Therapy dog.
Sue said: “The homes and places around here have been waiting so long for a therapy dog. There is a list of people, some of whom have been waiting three years. The next nearest dog is in Torquay, where there is a long waiting list.”
After 12 weeks of checks and tests, Cyrus was verified and had his first visit with a man in Budleigh Salterton, who was desperate to meet a collie, recently.
As a therapy dog, Cyrus will be paying visits to children, some of whom have autism, older people suffering with loneliness and even people who are terminally ill and miss having a pet of their own.
“He will go anywhere it is thought some cuddling will help,” said Sue.
“I’m just aware of how much animals can do for us and also how much we must do for them.
“It means a lot to me to do this. I know how much my animals have done for me. They have supported me through thick and thin, through my darkness moments.
“I hope when I’m too old to have my own dog, people will let me pet their dog.
“It is just nice that a street dog from Romania is making people happy on the streets in Sidmouth.” n
Visit petsastherapy.org for more about therapy dogs, or loveunderdogs.org to help other dogs like Cyrus.