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Meet Cher, the rescue dog from Cyprus enjoying life in the Lake District

PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 September 2017

Cher shows she has a head for heights at Striding Edge

Cher shows she has a head for heights at Striding Edge

not Archant

Rescue dog Cher was left for dead in Cyprus but the grin on her face shows she loves her energetic new life in the Lakes

Hayley with Cher Hayley with Cher

DOGS normally let you know they are pleased by wagging their tails, but this happy hound seems to grin from floppy ear to floppy ear.

And with good reason. Just over a year ago things looked bad for Cher and her brother, Sonny. They were found tied to a post on a hot, dusty day in Cyprus without any food or water. Cher had a broken leg.

They were eventually taken to the DALI Dog Rescue centre just south of Nicosia and, without a home to go to, they would have been destroyed. What happened next was remarkable – and within a few weeks Cher was having a high old time in the Lake District tackling the region’s Wainwrights, the 214 peaks detailed by the Lancashire walker in his famous guide books.

The story starts with Hayley Leece, receptionist at the Langdale Chase Hotel in Windermere, at home in Ambleside surfing the internet. ‘I can’t explain why I clicked on the DALI dog rescue site. I’ve never been to Cyprus and I’d never thought about going there. My only connection was that I grew up with dogs at home.’

Cher with Tom and Hayley after conquering another Wainwright Cher with Tom and Hayley after conquering another Wainwright

Hayley spotted Cher, a cross between a golden retriever and a Greek domestic dog called a kokoni, and before long she was paying £425 to have the dog flown, with her brother, from Cyprus to Paris before travelling through the Eurotunnel to a new life in the Lakes. ‘Everyone thought I’d lost my mind,’ said Hayley. ‘There I was at Lymm Services at 4am to pick up this dog.’

It was worth the effort. ‘I knew from the beginning that she was meant to be with us. It really was love at first sight.’

They arrived back at the home Hayley shares with her partner Tom Varga, a chef at the Drunken Duck, and Cher soon made herself at home. ‘In fact, she ran straight upstairs and peed on the carpet!’

Initially, Cher – whose brother was also re-homed in the UK – was scared of men and frightened of sticks, a indicator perhaps of ill-treatment back in Cyprus. ‘But now she is fearless, except for the vacuum cleaner, and she is extremely fit apart from her leg, which is still a bit wonky.’

Six legs good  Cher walks tall with Hayley and Tom Six legs good  Cher walks tall with Hayley and Tom

After what she’d been through, Hayley could have been forgiven for letting Cher curl up in her basket. Instead, she has become a bit of a social media star.

‘I really like fell walking – I love a challenge,’ said Hayley. ‘I wanted Cher to be the first Cypriot to walk all 214 Wainwrights and, so far, we’ve done 60 and hope to complete the rest by the middle of next year.’

Despite her leg, Cher loves the challenging walks. ‘We only take her on very long hikes – lasting nine or ten hours – once a week at the most, and if we are having two hiking days in a week we will make one of them a short walk. If it is a very hot day we go to one of the lakes instead.’

Hayley put a post about Cher’s exploits on the I Love The Lakes Facebook page and within a couple of days she had attracted 800 ‘likes.’

Cher in the Cyprus dogs home Cher in the Cyprus dogs home

‘The response has already been incredible - my phone is going crazy with notifications. It is so heart-warming to see how special she is to so many people. She is a fantastic ambassador for rescue dogs, DALI dogs in particular.’

It seems Cher’s arrival is part of a trend among British dog lovers. ‘We’ve changed her life, but she has also changed ours. We are at the park every day meeting people we would never have met.

‘In Rothay Park in Ambleside, we have met people with dogs from Romania, Bulgaria, Spain, Nepal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo!’

Hayley has kept the distinctive orange DALI Dog Rescue bandana and Cher wears it on her walks. ‘When we put it on her, she knows something is going to happen. She’s so happy and confident. She really is proof that dogs can smile! ’

Cher, wearing her Cyprus rescue centre bandana, is proof that 
dogs really can smile Cher, wearing her Cyprus rescue centre bandana, is proof that dogs really can smile

To find out more about the DALI Dog Rescue go to www.facebook.com/groups/dogrescuecyprus

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