A British soldier who rescued a stray dog while serving overseas has managed to fly him home for Christmas.
Royal Military Police Sergeant Ashley Rodden started looking after the badly malnourished mongrel when he started hanging around outside her room in a military base in Cyprus this summer.
The Afghanistan veteran, from Ahoghill, Co Antrim, who was on a UN tour of duty in the island, soon decided she could not abandon her new friend, whom she named Bob, when she left for the holidays.
“When I first saw him it was one night on the base and he was covered in ticks and things,” she said.
“I thought nothing of it then. But then the next day I went into my room and went back out and he was sat there again, curled up on a mat. I thought ‘Well, I am going to have to look after him now’.
“I got that attached to him I rang my mum and said ‘Look, I can’t leave him here, he is coming home with me’.”
So the 24-year-old started a fundraising campaign to help raise the significant investment required to get Bob to Northern Ireland.
With around £800 in donations added to her own contribution, Sgt Rodden was able to book his ticket and last week he boarded a plane in Cyprus bound for a new life in distinctly colder climes.
“He had to get a pet passport, microchipped and get a rabies jab,” she said.
“He flew from Cyprus to Dubai and then into Dublin and then my dad went down to Dublin and picked him up.”
Bob made it to his new home just before his owner arrived back on leave for the festive period.
“He is getting on really well,” said Sgt Rodden.
“We’ve got another dog at home - Bailey the chocolate lab - and she just plays with him all the time, even though she’s about four times the size of him.
“He has even got a wee Christmas jumper.”