Merlin was in a poor state when he was rescued by the RSPCA. The 10-year-old Doberman was “very confused and unsettled” when he arrived at Millbrook Animal Centre, in Surrey, just after New Year.
Millbrook Animal Centre manager Sue Walters said: “Poor Merlin was in a bit of a state when he came to us.
“He’d really been through a tough time after losing his owner and was very confused and unsettled when he arrived here.
“He was overweight – weighing in at a hefty 54kg – and had a skin condition where he’d rubbed patches of his fur off and made them sore.
“We also discovered he had a thyroid problem which would require medication for the rest of his life.
“We put him onto a diet and exercise plan, sorted out his medication and started to work with him to bring him out of his shell.
“We knew it would be tricky to find him a home as an older dog with health problems.”
But it was love at first sight for Pete and Sarah Gale, from Hertfordshire, after they saw Merlin at the centre in April when they were looking for a guinea pig for their daughter, Jess.
Mrs Gale said: “We went in for a 1kg guinea pig and came out with a 46kg dog!”
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“I thought it was so sad that he’d lived his whole life with someone and now found himself in the centre.
“When we met him it was love at first sight; he was so lovely and gentle.
“He was overweight, bumpy and a bit scabby but he was so friendly and affectionate. We wanted to give Merlin the best life possible for the time he had left.
“He and Lyra were a little frosty with each other at first but, within a week, they were playing like they’d always been together.
“He didn’t really know how to play when he got here but, within a week, he was play-bowing and now he pesters Lyra until she gives in and plays with him!
“He runs and leaps and loves a fuss. When you walk past him you have to give him a pat on the head or he barks at you as a reminder!”
The Gale family are planning on spoiling lucky Merlin this Christmas.
Mrs Gale said: “It will be a traditional family affair this Christmas, and that will obviously involve Lyra and Merlin.
“Santa will leave him a pressie under the tree and he’ll get more presents from all of the kids and the rest of the family.
“We’ll head out for a chilly morning walk and play in the garden with his new Christmas toys and then he can snooze in front of the fire and have lots of cuddles all night. After all, it is Christmas!”
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