Sherry the rescue dog may only have her front legs but she’s running a marathon to raise money for Dogs4Rescue.
The Bulgarian sheepdog was saved by Emma Billington who runs the charity six years ago after she was shot outside a restaurant.
Emma paid £3000 for surgery to remove her legs and tail, as Sherry was only able to move by dragging them behind her and was left with painful sores.
Supporter Jim Colla who runs Dogswheels.com built a cart for Sherry to rest her lower body on.
As soon as she put it on, she started running around and inspired Emma to start a fundraising challenge which begins on Monday August 19th.
Sherry will run a mile a day in her marathon for Dogs4Rescue
Emma explained: “Sherry is such a lovely, happy dog despite all she has been through and everyone falls in love with her. Now she has her cart there is no stopping her.
“Because she loves running so much we had the idea for her to do a marathon and for supporters to join her or sponsor her.
“We’re inviting supporters to come along and run with her and each day she will run a mile so she doesn’t get too tired.
“All the funds will go towards building a new visitor’s centre at the rescue and that will mean we can help more dogs find homes.
“Sherry will always live with me because she needs a lot of care due to her disability, but her helping raise money for the centre will mean dogs in need can find forever homes.”
When Emma set up Dogs4Rescue Sherry was the first dog she helped
Sherry was searching for food in bins and was left paralysed by the bullets which embedded in her spine, meaning she could only use her front legs.
A charity arranged a new home for her in the UK, but her new owners struggled to cope with her complex needs and that’s when Emma stepped in.
Sherry was the first dog Emma cared for after setting up Dogs4Rescue in 2013 and is the poster girl for the shelter at events and on social media.
Emma, 40, credits her with helping heal her heart after saying goodbye to Sandy, a breeding dog who was the first dog she ever saved.
Sherry has given Emma huge emotional support since her arrival
Emma was working as a computer programmer in Manchester city centre in 2001 when she found a Staffie, Lucky, tied up in a yard being used as a breeding dog.
The authorities couldn’t help, so Emma befriended the man who owned her, and would visit the dog each day and take her home for respite breaks.
One day Lucky escaped and was hit by a car, the man got another dog named Sandy. When the owner passed away, Emma rescued Sandy, quit her job and started a dog walking business.
That evolved into her rescue, and she helps dogs from the UK and Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus. Many like Sherry have complex needs and will live with Emma in her farmhouse in Irlam forever.
Emma said: “Sherry is so special to me because when Sandy died, she kept me going. She was so loving and affectionate when I was completely broken.
“She’s since seen hundreds of dogs come here, many who have suffered terrible things, and she is a real matriarch and takes care of them all.”
Dogs4Rescue is a shelter with a difference as there are no kennels or cages
Emma runs her charity from a huge farmhouse close to the M62 in Irlam, Manchester, and it’s the UK’s only free running rescue.
Currently there’s 52 dogs running freed in the grounds and sleeping in the farmhouse with Emma and her team.
The money raised by Sherry’s marathon will be used to build a visitor centre where people can spend time learning about Emma’s work and the importance of considering a rescue.
Emma said: “Having a purpose built visitor centre will mean we can invite the public here to learn about what we do to help the dogs.
“The more people know about us, the more animals we can help and the response to Sherry’s marathon has been just brilliant!
“We are so pleased that people have got behind her fundraising campaign and her bravery and determination will lead to other dogs getting a chance at happiness.”
Emma is hoping to raise £15,000 and if you would like to sponsor Sherry visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sherrysmarathon
You can watch a video of Sherry on her wheels below
If you’d like to learn more about Emma’s work, you might like to read Emma is creating an adventure playground for dogs at Dogs4Rescue.