Grieving Devon family's 'perfect' tribute to beloved dog

Megan Barrable and her late dog Bella
-Credit: (Image: Megan Barrable)

A grieving family has set up the "perfect" tribute for their ball-loving pooch after she passed away last week. Bella, the 14-year-old red setter cross spaniel, had to be put to sleep.

Wanting to honour the dog who had been with her through thick and thin, Megan Barrable, 28, and her mum Sue found a special way to have her remembered. They decided to put the dozens of balls their pooch had collected over the years together in her favourite spot in her memory and for other dogs to enjoy.

"We wanted to honour Bella’s 14 and a half years with us by donating all of her 40 plus tennis balls - which she mostly found at the park - at our local park in Whiddon Valley," said Megan, who is from Barnstaple. "Every day since she was a puppy, we took her to Westacott Park, Whiddon Valley where she would often find a tennis ball and carry it all the way home.

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"You knew which were her favourites because she didn’t want to rip those ones into tiny pieces." Megan's family brought Bella home two days before Christmas when Megan was aged 13. She said: "She was in the most significant parts of my life - secondary school, college and university.

"She absolutely loved the park and going to Crow Point for a runaround and swim at the beach. She even loved going into town and getting stroked by everyone on the high street. Bella was the most stubborn but so affectionate, sensitive dog you could have ever met."

Bella the red setter cross spaniel
Adored Bella was a Christmas pooch who brought her family so much joy in her 13 years -Credit:Megan Barrable

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She continued: "Even until the very end, she loved her daily routine of walking around the park and then going for a dip in the stream. We met so many people over the last 14 years and my mum set up a weekly dog walking club in the park when campaigning to save it from an access road being built across it.

"There is such a sense of community up the park. Sometimes I couldn’t tell you people’s names but I could tell you the names of their dogs and they all knew Bella’s name"

She said she has been overwhelmed with the reaction to the tribute and messages since posting about Bella's death and the tennis ball tribute on Facebook. She's even had the chance to talk about it on Radio Devon.

A dog with her collection of tennis balls
The box now lived in Bella's favourite park for other dogs to enjoy

"Bella was the most amazing dog and I am missing her so much, especially when at home," she said. "But I have taken great comfort in seeing other dogs enjoying these tennis balls, treats and keeping Bella’s memory alive."