Puppy Nell finds new home at Ave Maria

By Laura Briggs

Despite having been through a devastating personal experience recently, Berrigan’s Steve Dunn has brought joy to the staff and residents of Mercy Place Ave Maria, Shepparton, through a kind act that had its beginnings some months ago.

Earlier this week Mr Dunn made a special visit to those at Ave Maria where he donated a Maltese shih-tzu puppy who will take the place of staff member Jenny Shannon’s beloved dog Lizzy, who went missing during a storm in April.

Ms Shannon said her dog was more than a personal pet but was rather a friend to many of the residents at the aged care facility.

“I used to bring Lizzy in here every day, so she used to come and do the rounds and see all the residents,” Ms Shannon said.

“I thought it would be just a short-lived thing and they’d get sick of it, so I stopped bringing her for a couple of days, but then they were asking where she was and why she wasn’t there.”

She said Lizzy’s daily visit to residents had become a highlight, until she went missing.

“One day there was a storm and she got out and we lost her.”

Despite the lengths residents went to to see the dog return home, their hopes dimmed as time passed and there was no sign of Lizzy.

“They all said when Lizzy was missing that it felt like a loss, so it was like a grieving process for everyone.”

But while the grieving was taking place, Mr Dunn and his partner Narelle Eggins had other ideas to restore the joy to Ms Shannon and residents.

“I saw it on the news that she’d lost her dog and I was 30 days off having a litter myself, so I got in contact with them and said if you don’t find your dog, get in touch with me and I’ll donate one.”

When Lizzy did not return home, Mr Dunn confirmed that a puppy just like Lizzy had been born.

Sadly, Ms Eggins was unable to be present when Mr Dunn donated the dog to Ms Shannon, as she died early last month.

Despite his suffering, Mr Dunn said the joy he saw on the residents’ faces when they held the eight-week-old puppy for the first time was matchless.

“You couldn’t buy that,” he said.

Ms Shannon said the act of kindness had boosted her faith in humanity.

“I know Steve’s gone through a pretty rough time lately but it’s amazing to see how far he’s gone to help others and help all the residents here,” she said.

“It’s just beautiful that people have got such a big heart.

“It’s very touching.”

Ms Shannon said after a long wait to receive the puppy, her arrival brought a great happiness.

“The residents have lit up, they’re so excited.

“It just feels surreal for me, because it’s been a big journey, but this today is just beautiful.”

She said they named the new puppy in memory of Ms Eggins.

“Steve’s partner was Narelle, so we thought we’d go with Nell.”