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WEEKEND: PET SOS: Remember - old 'uns are the best; WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING A RESCUE ANIMAL DON'T OVERLOOK THOSE AGEING - THEY NEED LOVE TOO.

Byline: Ann Evans

THEY may be old, but they don't deserve to be overlooked - that's the message Michelle Stewart has for anyone considering giving an unwanted animal a home.

And she should know as among her own pets are a rescued Dartmoor pony aged 30 and a 15-year-old corgi cross, which she says are "two of the best animals we've ever had".

Mother-of-two Michelle, a qualified riding instructor, was looking for a pony for her seven-year-old daughter Laura to ride.

She heard about a tiny Dartmoor pony, rescued from being slaughtered for meat, and went along to see it.

"I had to make sure it was safe for my daughter to ride and safe to be ridden near traffic," said Michelle, of Tile Hill, Coventry.

"So I took her out along a busy road and she didn't bat an eyelid and never put a foot wrong.

"My daughter named her Sunny Delight and we've had her for two years now. She is a super pony. I've even put my two-year-old daughter Sapphire on her.

"As for Laura, she's ridden her at local shows and even won prizes with her.

"Some people buy a young pony for their child only to discover it's too lively and the child can't manage it. For children an older pony is much better. They are quieter, they've done a lot more, seen a lot more and are just more experienced - they aren't seeing things for the first time so they aren't flighty.

"Sunny Delight is priceless. Worth her weight in gold."

As for the family's rescued dog Jemmy, she had been in kennels at the NCDL for three months without anyone showing an interest in her.

Michelle said: "She is a full foster dog, she'd just had a tumour removed when we first saw her a year ago and she is quite deaf and partially sighted. We think she was a stray and she had obviously been beaten.

"When we first got her she was so scared, she just sat in the corner and stared at the wall. If anyone opened a door she was terrified. My kitchen door slammed shut one day and she went into a complete panic, shaking and very frightened. It took her five months to put her ears up.

"Now she's absolutely gorgeous. She trots around the garden, she comes to the stables with us, and she gets on really well with our other dog Kayle. It's like Jemmy has had a new lease of life.

"I can understand that people worry about getting an older pet, and getting attached to it when it may only have a short time left. But we lost a dog at six months - it's a lottery really.

"With lots of love, care and attention, plus the medical care they can get, there is no reason why an older animal can't live to a ripe old age.

"There is such a lot of older animals in desperate need of loving homes, please don't let their age put you off. It's about the quality of life, not the time span. An old dog could spend the rest of its life in kennels, or it could spend the rest of its days, no matter how long or short, in a home being loved and cared for."

Has a rescued pet made a difference to your life? We would love to hear from you. Telephone Ann Evans on 024 7650 0515, or write to the Features Dept., Coventry Evening Telegraph, Corporation Street, Coventry, CV1 1FP, or email: ann.evans@mrn.co.uk

USEFUL CONTACTS

The RSPCA Animal Centre in Coundon Wedge Drive, Coventry, is open six days a week (closed Tuesdays) 11am-4pm. 024 7633 6616.

The NCDL Animal Shelter is based at Honiley near Kenilworth. It is open every day except Fridays 12-4pm. 01926 484398.

Contact number for the Cats Protection League is 024 7647 0263.

Petseek 01926 814883.

Petsearch 024 7650 6399/ 024 7676 56392.

Animal Welfare Office/Dog Warden 024 7683 1832.

CAPTION(S):

HELPING THE AGED: Michelle Stewart enjoying the company of her "elderly" rescue pets Sunny Delight the pony, aged 30, and 15-year-old dog Jemmy Picture by PETE ROBERTS
COPYRIGHT 2002 Coventry Newpapers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 18, 2002
Words:695
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