Our dogs are our ‘surrogate children’

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A Castlerock couple have told a BBC NI programme they can’t imagine what life would be like without their beloved dogs.

Trevor and Diane Armstrong describe their two dogs, Mena and Lahl, as “surrogate children”.

They are just two dog-loving owners featuring in a documentary: True North: Pets At Peace, which will be shown on BBC1 Northern Ireland on Monday, March 7 fom 10.45pm.

More than half of the people living in Northern Ireland share their lives with a canine companion, with many of us treating our dogs like family.

And as our much loved pets grow old or become sick, the prospect of losing them can be as traumatic and upsetting as the loss of a close friend or relative.

Pets at Peace explores themes of love and loss both through the personal journeys of people facing the imminent death of their beloved dogs, and the bereaved pet owners who are still struggling with grief years after their four-legged friends have passed away.

The Armstrongs dogs are now 15 years old, they haveworrying health problems, and their owners are determined to enjoy whatever time they have left with them, before things deteriorate.

Programme producer Patricia Moore says: “Some pet owners allowed us into their lives to film the final weeks of their pet’s life, at what was a very traumatic time for them, but the care and attention they bestowed on their pets was very moving.

“All of our contributors had a special bond with their dogs, which gave us a lovely and very real insight into our relationship with our pets.”