A partially sighted dog and the canine chum who helps her get around are taking the lead for a Christmas charity appeal launched by a veterinary group.

Willows Veterinary Group, which has its head office in Rudheath, near Northwich, has launched its first Pawsome Pets Christmas Appeal.

It aims to help as many unwanted and unloved animals as possible over the festive period with donations of food, toys and blankets or even find new homes for abandoned dogs.

The inspiration for the new appeal came after Willows Veterinary Group marketing manager David Crane visited Cheshire Dogs’ Home, and met some of their four legged guests.

Doggie chums Ruby and Ellie with Cheshire Dogs Home assistant manager Kate Roberts, assistant Will Featonby and David Crane of Willows Veterinary Group
Doggie chums Ruby and Ellie with Cheshire Dogs Home assistant manager Kate Roberts, assistant Will Featonby and David Crane of Willows Veterinary Group

The Appeal

The appeal encourages pet lovers everywhere to bring in new pet food, toys and blankets for animals of all types to any of the Willows surgeries in the group.

The resulting collection will be distributed to various animal rescue charities across the region.

David said: “We have always done a lot for charity, mainly via our community fund, where we raise money via all sorts of events we organise such as dog shows or at our annual Christmas party and distribute it to animal charities across the region.

“We also help rehome animals via The Cheshire Pet Charity Network which we set up so we have a long track record of helping needy animals.

“When I visited Cheshire Dogs’ Home recently, I found it hard to walk around and see all the little eyes looking up at me and knowing there’s no way I could take all of them home and I felt we were in a position to do even more this Christmas by launching this appeal.

“We have a lot of loving pet owners who visit us and we know how much they care about animals so we are urging anyone to bring in new pet food, supplies, blankets, toys, for all different creatures and we will make sure it finds the right home."

“We have only just launched the appeal and we have already had a message on Facebook asking whether someone can deliver direct to us from Amazon so that gives you the measure of the generosity of our clients.”

Could you rehome these two doggie chums?

David met inseparable friends five-year-old Shar-pei Ruby and two-year-old Staffie cross Ellie, who came to Cheshire Dogs’ Home separately as strays but have struck up a remarkable bond.

For Ruby, it will be her third Christmas at the rescue kennels and when she first arrived, she was a bundle of nerves and suffering from sores on her legs and a condition common to the breed called entropian where the eyelids and eyelashes grow inwards.

She has since had various operations but remains partially sighted and relies on Ellie to find her way round.


Home assistant Will Featonby, 27, who regularly looks after the doggie duo, said: “Ellie is Ruby’s unofficial guide dog and protector. Ellie came to us as a five-month old pup and we put her in with Ruby for company because we had realised how calm and much happier Ruby was when she was around other dogs.

“They became the very best of friends almost immediately and it helped bring Ruby out of her shell because Ellie craves attention and when we would go in to see them, Ellie would come bounding up and Ruby would just follow.

David Crane of Willows Veterinary Group (left) with home assistant Will Featonby and Ruby and Ellie
David Crane of Willows Veterinary Group (left) with home assistant Will Featonby and Ruby and Ellie

“When you take them out anywhere, Ellie will always lead and Ruby just keep close to her hind leg. If they meet any other dogs, Ellie will always check them out first and if they get her seal of approval then she will let Ruby say hello.

“But the friendship really does work both ways. Ellie takes a lot of comfort from having Ruby as her companion. She came to us as a very young dog with a bad leg. We don’t know much about what happened to her but she is still wary of strangers and different situations so she takes a lot of confidence from having Ruby there with her who is a lot calmer now.

“They have two beds in the kennel but they always cuddle up together in one of them at night.

“Neither of them have ever shown an ounce of aggression and they are both lovely dogs who have become such firm friends that we need to home them together and preferably in a home with people aged 16 and over. We would also need potential owners to visit them several times before we can be sure it will be the right home for them all.

“They have both spent several Christmases with us now and nothing would please me more than to see them in a new home.

“In the meantime, charitable appeals such as the Willows Pawsome Pets, make all the difference to us at what is a very busy time of year. It helps us raise awareness too of what we do and we can’t thank Willows Veterinary Group enough for helping us in this way.”

How you can help

To support the Willows Pawsome Pets Christmas Appeal drop off new food, toys, blankets and other supplies at any Willows Veterinary Group Surgery by December 18. For a full list and more details go to www.willowsvetgroup.co.uk or visit the Facebook page @WillowsVetGroup.

If you can you give a loving home to Ruby and Ellie visit http://www.dogshome.net/ or call 0844 504 1212.