Gina Meehan has a new man in her life. He’s handsome and distinguished, with plenty of energy, a short trim beard, and adorable, she tells Louise Roseingrave
THIS young fella will never arrive with petrol station flowers. In fact he’s more likely to greet St Valentine’s Day with oblivious charm. His name is Scooby.
‘I can’t believe how in love with him I am,’ interior designer Gina Meehan proudly admits. And, adding, without a hint of arrogance: ‘I think he’s in love with me too!’
When Skibbereen woman Gina lost her beloved golden retriever Buddy during the first lockdown, she thought she could never get another dog. The pain of Buddy’s death hit her hard. When her son Shane emigrated to Canada before Christmas, leaving her living alone in her renovated country cottage, Gina was distraught.
‘I never thought I could love another dog like I loved Buddy, my heart was never so broken when he died, I was utterly bereft. That was pure grief. Then Shane left for Canada. My other son Cian emigrated to Canada five years ago. I am a sociable person, I love people, I love company. And here we were in a pandemic and the walls were closing in around me,’ Gina says.
With encouragement from Canada, she tentatively began looking at rescue dog websites, with a view to fostering first, before making a long term commitment.
One grey January day her friend Irene, who runs Ballygarvan Boarding Kennels, phoned her to say she had a small dog that needed a foster home.
‘As soon as I saw him, he came bounding down and jumping all over me. We got into the car and he stood in his seat in the car like he was driving. By the time I got to Skibbereen I knew I was going to keep this guy.’
Scooby is not used to being handled by humans, but Gina is coaxing him around. Getting to know his little character is bringing her lots of joy.
‘I am his third owner. He’s not used to cuddles or attention. At the beginning if I called his name, I got no response, but if there’s a knock on the door, he’s goes ballistic. Now he is responding to my voice. In fact he’s become my shadow. If I move, he’s at my heels. He waits outside the door while I shower!’ Gina says.
A cross between a Shih Tzu and a Cairn terrier, Scooby’s coat was matted and in need of a wash when he arrived at the rescue centre.
Now he’s got a choice of two beds, a smart red halter collar and a matching seat belt for the car. His powerful little persona is transforming Gina’s life.
‘Every day, he makes me laugh. He makes me happy. He’s turned my life upside down, for the better. I wake up with a smile on my face. I am like a child at Christmas.
‘And every day I get out of the house walking. Walking! Before Scooby, I wouldn’t walk to save my life. I would drive up the supermarket aisle if I could.’
It’s only been a couple of weeks but already it is unconditional love. ‘I have somebody to love,’ says Gina. ‘I have somebody to care for. I’m not sitting and thinking about the pandemic morning, noon and night.’
Gina feels a slight disloyalty to her beloved old Buddy, having taken to her new man so seamlessly. However, little Scooby had a message for her in choosing where in her house he would sleep.
‘I left it to him to pick the spot where he sleeps. It is exactly where Buddy slept, right outside my door,’ she says, happily. ‘He has completely changed my mood. I am happier, more content, I feel safer. I’m telling everyone I have a new man in my life and he’s stolen my heart.’