FIRST LOVE: Reggie with his best friend Laria Barnett.
FIRST LOVE: Reggie with his best friend Laria Barnett. Contributed

Reggie takes his last breath after a life of helping others

AFTER the death of her dog, Rockhampton animal lover Davina Barnett didn't think she would ever own another pooch - and then she met Reggie.

Ms Barnett was working in the animal welfare industry at the time, helping rehome countless numbers of unwanted pets, but when Reggie was saved from death row at the pound she took her devotion to the next level.

"I felt content and happy knowing I was rescuing animals and rehoming them to good homes ... but the moment I saw him I just knew it," Ms Barnett said.

 

Reggie receiving a certficate at the Camp Quality launch.
Reggie receives a certificate at the Camp Quality launch. Contributed

The decision to adopt Reggie was a battle between Ms Barnett's head and her heart, but their "love at first sight" connection was too strong for her to let him go.

In 2009, Reggie the golden retriever became the third member of the family.

Ms Barnett was a single mum at the time and she said Reggie's presence gave her and her young daughter Laria instant comfort.

"When he was around we were all safe and happy," she said.

"Reggie and my daughter really have grown up as siblings.

"He was our best friend. You kinda never really appreciate it when people say a dog is a man's best friend, but he was certainly more than that, he was part of our family."

 

Reggie with Davina Barnett from RSPCA Rockhampton.
Reggie with Davina Barnett from RSPCA Rockhampton. Contributed

Reggie also became part of Ms Barnett's professional life.

When she managed the RSPCA pet shop Reggie accompanied her to work and became a poster-dog for adoption.

She said her earliest fondest memories of Reggie was when employees from neighbouring businesses would stop by just to see him.

"Everyone came to visit him," Ms Barnett said.

Reggie's role as an advocate for adoption quickly escalated and he underwent dog behavioural training and began visiting schools with the RSPCA.

 

Reggie at work as an ambassador to RSCPA, raising awareness to rescue abandoned dogs just like him.
Reggie at work as an ambassador to RSCPA, raising awareness to rescue abandoned dogs just like him. Contributed

Reggie also visited social events to raise awareness of animal welfare.

Ms Barnett said Reggie's existence highlighted the importance of adoption.

"Adopt don't shop and just remember dogs are a family member not a gift," she said.

Ms Barnett said without animal welfare organisations Reggie could have easily been put to sleep before reaching his first birthday.

Reggie participated in countless charity events including the annual RSPCA Million Paws Walk in support of animals across Australia, which he did for 10 years.

 

Reggie at work as an ambassador to RSCPA, raising awareness to rescue abandoned dogs just like him.
Reggie at work as an ambassador to RSCPA, raising awareness to rescue abandoned dogs just like him. Contributed

Ms Barnett said if Reggie was put to sleep all the awareness he created for animal welfare wouldn't have been possible.

Reggie continued to be an animal advocate for adoption almost until his last breath.

About one month ago, he was diagnosed with cancer and given less than 30 days to live.

"Our month was just spent trying to save his life as best as we could or make his life quality," Ms Barnett said.

Reggie was medicated and put on a natural diet, but despite Ms Barnett's hope for his survival he lost his battle last Friday.

Reggie was a shining light in the family's lives for 10 years.

Their happy golden retriever made the family whole and they are now living the first week with an "empty" feeling in their home and hearts.

Ms Barnett said that if readers could learn just one thing from Reggie's story it was to save an animal's life by adopting.