Lake District Dogs - Meet Ella, the terrier from Kendal

Ella captured the hearts of the Tearle family

Ella captured the hearts of the Tearle family - Credit: Archant

A scruffy terrier from Blackpool captured the hearts of a farming family, as Emily Rothery reports

Ten years ago Cheryl Tearle and her sons, Jack and Adam, set out from their farm and riding stables in Patton near Kendal to choose a dog from a rescue centre. Cheryl had just lost her faithful old mongrel, Rex, and wanted another that would be good with small children.

When she came home with a tatty little terrier her husband, Andrew, was less than complementary. Cheryl laughs: ‘He was most put out. He was expecting a golden Labrador to go with his Range Rover and green wellies. Henceforth, he called her Rat.’

Ella had been found abandoned, tied to the promenade railings in Blackpool. She was a sorry sight, thin as a rake and covered in lice. But Cheryl was smitten: ‘She was so affectionate and waggy-tailed.’

Of uncertain provenance and indeterminate age, Ella soon made her mark. On arriving at her new home she immediately shunned a comfortable new dog bed deciding her place was under Jack’s bed.

‘She was devoted to the boys and wouldn’t come down in the morning until they were up. She also loved our Labrador Bert and, despite the size difference, would lick and mother him.’

Then, the tiny terrier surprised the family when she took it upon herself to demonstrate her repertoire of circus tricks. She could walk across a room and back on her hind legs, beg without prompt, dance, pull herself along on her front legs like a furry commando, flip and spin. And being a party girl, her favourite snacks were popcorn and pizza.

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For Ella every day was a new adventure. She never missed an opportunity to jump up and sit atop a load of hay on the wheelbarrow or trailer. She would join Cheryl on horse and carriage rides and when tired, would sit on the front of the saddle and travel for miles. If the boys went kayaking she refused to be left behind. Tractor rides with Andrew were a particular favourite as were long runs on the sands with Bert and a pet goat called William. The trio drew some second glances.

Ella was given the freedom of the 100 acre farm but soon proved to be no respecter of boundaries. She was well known in the area and locals would ring Cheryl to say: ‘I’ve got your dog. She’s sitting by the AGA as if she’s always lived here.’ One night a local man, almost home from a late shift, glanced in his rear view mirror and saw the terrier staring intently at him from the backseat.

Cheryl recalls Ella with great affection: ‘She was always scruffy and had lost half of one ear due to an altercation with an Alsatian but she had the best temperament. I think her favourite day was at nearby Kendal’s Serpentine Woods. We were on a trip with the local primary school. Ella just loved being with the children and launched herself into the obstacle course with them, over jumps and through tunnels. She had a whale of a time and the children adored her.

Ella lived life to the full until the end. Cheryl has written her final letter, one of many, to the local paper about Ella to thank all of those people who made sure that her beloved terrier was always returned safely.

Did Ella eventually win a place in Andrew’s heart? I’ll leave that up to you, dear reader, to draw your own conclusion.