Sad tale behind Sidmouth's 'smoking dog'

PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 November 2008 | UPDATED: 11:33 17 June 2010

THE owner of a pipe-smoking, seat-belt wearing dog of the stuffed toy variety has revealed how his canine travel companion helps ease his heartache.

THE owner of a pipe-smoking, seat-belt wearing dog of the stuffed toy variety, who has turned many a head in Sidmouth over the past few weeks, has revealed how his canine travel companion helps ease his heartache.

Many Sidmouth residents may have noticed Bruno the beagle 'smoking' while strapped into the passenger seat of Tony Fletcher's his car when it is parked in the town.

Mr Fletcher, 75, of Woolbrook Road, said: "My wife died two years ago and my dog died shortly after. My daughter asked me why I didn't get another dog but I just couldn't face the heartache.

I came across him (Bruno) in Aldershot (in Hampshire). I live by myself and its just company for me when I'm driving.

"There is not much behind the pipe, it is just part of the gimmick to have something alongside me when I'm in the car.

"I belong to a bereavement group but they always have to sit in the back when I give them a lift."

Bruno is part of a collection of more than 60 stuffed toys Mr Fletcher has amassed and one who garners a lot of attention.

Mr Fletcher added: "The same day I got him I bought him back to the car and got told off by a lady for putting a dog in the car and leaving the windows closed.

"He gets a hell of a lot of attention every day, I've come back to crowds with kids and people wanting photos.

"He's been all over Devon with me. I got stopped by the police once, I don't think the officer could quite believe what he was seeing and I never found out what he stopped me for because he let he let me go on.

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