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Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY BRETT CAMP­BELL

Fa­ther-of-two Stephen McGar­rell with his loyal Al­sa­tian, Ziva A LOYAL dog who fran­ti­cally at­tempted to save her master’s life has found a new home fol­low­ing a heart­break­ing ap­peal from her owner’s el­derly mother.

Stephen McGar­rell (47) dropped dead af­ter suf­fer­ing a heart at­tack while out walk­ing his beloved Al­sa­tian Ziva at lunchtime on Oc­to­ber 2.

His dev­as­tated mum Sheila (72) said the en­tire fam­ily, who have “a lot of love” for Ziva, were de­lighted af­ter se­cur­ing a new home for her yes­ter­day.

“Ziva has found a new home and it’s a good home, we are all re­ally grate­ful,” she said.

“She was such a great friend to Stephen and they were in­sep­a­ra­ble — they went ev­ery­where to­gether and she al­ways sat in the front seat be­side him when he was driv­ing.

“He loved her, she was his life.”

The fa­ther-of-two had let four-year-old Ziva off her lead at Cranagh Bridge, a beauty spot near Agha­gal­lon where he walked ev­ery day, just be­fore he col­lapsed.

The dis­tressed dog ran on to the road to at­tract at­ten­tion and led two men to find Stephen ly­ing in the grass — they con­tacted po­lice as she cir­cled his body and cried.

A neighbour had been car­ing for the dog un­til Sheila, who suf­fers from arthri­tis, found a new owner.

“A lot of peo­ple con­tacted us but we wanted to be sure she went to a suit­able home, to some­one who could give her the at­ten­tion she de­serves,” she said.

The griev­ing mother said noone in the fam­ily was able to de­vote enough time to prop­erly care for Ziva, but she also de­scribed the agony the fam­ily feel when they think about the dog who re­minds them so vividly of Stephen.

“We have the op­tion of see­ing her, but at the minute we don’t want to — it’s just too painful,” said Sheila.

Stephen’s daugh­ter Louise (24) and son James (19) are too busy to care for Ziva, but Sheila said the con­stant re­minder of their fa­ther would be too much.

“That dog loves them both and they love her — it’s a re­la­tion­ship, Ziva knows them — but it hurts too much,” she added. “Maybe some day we’ll be able to see her again, but not yet — it’s too soon.”

❝ She was a great friend to Stephen and they were in­sep­a­ra­ble, she would sit be­side him when he drove

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