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Elderly dog donates box of tennis balls and 7 other stories that warmed hearts in 2021

An 18-year-old Labrador’s final goodbye to his favourite café and an 11-year-old cocker spaniel donating his old toys to other dogs are among the stories readers loved the most in 2021.

There’s no doubt that dogs just know how to pull on our heartstrings, but these are the anecdotes that made people smile and laugh when they were feeling blue.

A blind dog realising she’s going to the dog park, and a few golden retrievers – who appeared to be the most popular breed on the internet this year – are all some of the most popular stories that hit headlines over the last 12 months.

Here are eight of the most read dog stories readers couldn’t get enough during a challenging 2021.

Jarvis donates his old tennis balls

A cocker spaniel named Jarvis left readers in tears after the elderly, arthritic dog donated all his old tennis balls to a country park.

Dog walker Kayley Drewitt, 29, from Littleport, Ely, was walking her client’s pup, seven-month-old Ozzy, when she spotted the box in Ely Country Park.

The note on the front of the box read: “I’m too old to play with my favourite tennis balls now. But it would make me very happy to know that some younger doggies would have fun with them. Love from Jarvis.”

Ozzy had dived straight in for a tennis ball courtesy of the retired ball game lover, with Jarvis’ owner, Lian Wymer, reaching out to Kayley after she shared the heartwarming story on social media.

Lian, 53, said: “Jarvis is nearly 11 now and he’s got very severe arthritis, so he’s no longer fit for ball games. But he used to be a very active boy who liked carrying a ball in his mouth wherever we went.

“My husband was cleaning out the back of the car where all the balls were kept, and he was just going to throw them away, but I said no.

“It was such a big part of Jarvis’ daily life. He would always have his ball. I said I’d rather give them to somebody else.

“So I put them in a box, wrote a little note on it and left it in the park.”

German shepherd and golden retriever are best friends

Cleo the German shepherd melted hearts when viewers saw how excited she was to greet her golden retriever bestie in the most hilarious way.

The dogs have been best friends since they were puppies, and when Cleo spotted her buddy across the park, she tried to crouch down in a bid to hide, stalking her lifelong pal in the grass.

Cleo crept forward getting as close as she could until her golden bestie finally spotted her and the two sprinted towards each other in excitement.

The video, which comes from TikTok user @notoriouscleo, has become a viral sensation, with over 14 million views and almost three million likes.

Is it a dog or a tiger?

An aspiring creative groomer transformed her golden retriever, Odin, into a tiger for Halloween.

In a Tiger King-style throwback during the pandemic, Odin’s owner didn’t simply dress him as a tiger for the October celebration – but dyed his fur with pet-friendly dye.

In the viral clip viewed more than 4.1 million times, Odin is lying down calmly while their owner paints his golden locks bright orange.

She then adds the black stripes and Odin chills out as his new look dries before the big reveal that would certainly turn heads on the morning walk.

Odin’s owner said: “Halloween is just around the corner and our other dog decided to be a tiger this year.

“I am a baby groomer and I’m dipping my toe into creative grooming. I had so much fun using Opaws colours on Odin to achieve this fun look. For the first time playing with colour I’m excited for how well it turned out.”

Labrador learns how to use a torch

TikTok user’s dog uses a torch for going out in the dark

A Labrador cross called Jake learned to master the use of a torch as he was afraid of going for a wee in the dark.

His owner shared a video to their TikTok account @jakeyboo20 which showed just how smart and funny the trick was.

At the start of the clip, we see Jake’s owner – from New Zealand – hand him the torch before he heads outside to spend a penny.

The clever boy uses the bright beam of the torch to guide him through the tricky terrain before stopping to relieve himself.

Viewers were clearly impressed by Jake’s skills, with one commenting: “Man that dog has a bright future!”

Blind dog’s adorable reaction to the dog park

Blind dog taken on visit to favourite park

A blind Pyrenees left viewers sobbing when they saw her reaction to realising she was taking a trip to her favourite place – the dog park.

Kida the Pyrenees had her eyes removed due to a rare autoimmune disease, but doesn’t let it affect her day to day life too much.

The clip, which was uploaded by TikTok user @kidathepyr, saw Kida riding in the back seat of her owner’s car, with her head stuck out of the window enjoying the breeze.

The blind dog has clearly realised that she is being taken to her favourite park as her tail wags enthusiastically.

She continues to stand with her head out of the window as the car gets closer to the park, with her nose and other senses working overtime to compensate for her lack of sight as she notices they’re getting closer.

Kida has been blind since she suffered from two detached retinas, which caused her constant migraines and was a result of Uveodermatologic Syndrome.

She eventually had both eyes removed and now lives a completely normal life, enjoying walks and zooming around the yard.

Happy hippo or goldie?
Murphy was on a walk in Blackwood Forest, Hampshire, with his owner, Gill Smith, when she found him lying in a murky pit , happy as a pig in muck.

Wallowing in mud is one of the favourite pastimes of this 16-month-old puppy, which leaves him covered head to tail in mud like a happy hippo.

Gill said: “But once he’s found it and he’s in, then it’s too late, but my view is let him enjoy it, as he clearly does.”

Back at home, Murphy needs a good hose down, which the cheeky pup also considers a game as he gets Gill to chase him around the garden.

She added: “If it’s wet and foul outside or he’s found a smelly thing to play in then he knows about it – it’s the slow walk to the shower to get the full shampoo and set treatment.

“He also likes following the lawn mower and face planting in the newly cut grass which just results in Kermit the Dog.”

Grab the tissues for Barney’s story…

Barney, a 18-year-old Labrador, enjoyed an incredible ‘last day’ visiting his favourite café and eating McDonalds.

The senior dog, from Ballyhackamore in East Belfast, had been a familiar face in the local community, having originally trained as a police dog but becoming a family pet when a working life was deemed unsuitable for him.

On his final day, he did the rounds about town so that everyone who loved him could say goodbye – including at his favourite Café Nero branch, where he enjoyed a ‘croissant and a cuddle’.

His owner, Anne, said: “We’d held on as long as we could to Barney. We maybe should have let him go earlier but we just couldn’t and he didn’t want to go, we knew that.

“But one day he gave us the look and we knew it was time, he was tired, he was ready.

“His hips had become very stiff and sore but worse than that he’d developed a tumour in his nose and mouth.

“So we knew the end was coming but it was hard to contemplate life without him, and it has been heartbreaking to say goodbye not only for us but for all the friends he’d made along the way.”

Charlie the dancing Labrador

Elderly Labrador Charlie proved that age is just a number with an amazing dancing display.

The black dog has slowed down a bit in his twilight years, but he still has the iconic Lab bum wiggle when he gets excited.

In a video uploaded by TikTok user @molscot , he shows just how much bounce Charlie still has in his legs, as he leaps up at an outstretched hand.

Initially Charlie may seem to show his age, starting the clip by cautiously surveying the room with an experienced eye.

But the Labrador swiftly pounces on the man, who replies by sticking his arm out for the Lab to go at.

This is when Charlie fully displays the spring that remains in his step, as he leaps up at the hand in his face, bouncing lightly on his paws as he goes.

One heartwarming comment read: “Their bodies age, but never their spirit.”