Gallery: Lovable dog Bertie Blackjack bought in secret restores faith in humanity for The Spread Eagle pub landlady

Sheryl Meshirer-McGeown with her new dog Bertie Blackjack

Sheryl Meshirer-McGeown with her new dog Bertie Blackjack - Credit: Archant

It is a tale of goodwill that has restored her faith in humanity.

Sheryl Meshirer-McGeown, landlady of town centre pub The Spread Eagle, was devastated when she tragically lost her beloved dog Marmie.

However, little did she know, friends, colleagues and regulars set out to raise money to buy her a new puppy – the incredibly cute Bertie Blackjack.

It was the middle of May and Ms Meshirer-McGeown was getting ready to take her dog Marmie out for a walk when he suffered a heart attack and died.

She had cared for the four-year-old toy poodle since he was a few weeks old.


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“I’d had him since he was a baby. He was my baby,” she said. “He was famous in the pub. Everyone loved him.”

Six months previously Marmie had been diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a chronic adrenal insufficiency caused by lower than normal levels of hormones.

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Dogs diagnosed with the disease can lead normal active lives, but the condition had struck Marmie particularly hard because of his young age and small stature.

Vets had already saved his life on two occasions, yet he remained happy and playful.

But as Ms Meshirer-McGeown put the lead on Marmie for his walk, he suffered a heart attack, collapsing in her arms in the pub.

“I was broken-hearted,” she said. “He was my companion; he was with me the whole time. I adored him. It was depressing and really hard to take.”

This was the moment her friends, colleagues and pub regulars decided to act.

Behind the back of the popular landlady, they started drawing up plans to raise money to buy her another dog.

They spent the next couple of months fundraising and collecting donations. A whole series of bands which perform karaoke at the pub auctioned off their records.

Eventually more than £400 was in the pot, enough to buy the new dog.

A surprise party was then quickly arranged, where the two met for the first time amid emotional scenes.

“He came running up and jumped right in to my arms,” Ms Meshirer-McGeown said.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was in shock, completely gobsmacked. It was overwhelming.

“I can’t believe they went to all this trouble to put a smile back on my face. It put my faith back in humanity. Running a pub, you see the other side of humanity. But this was really special. I’ve never felt so loved.”

She said they have instantly bonded, calling him a “proper pub dog”. But naming the nine-week-old yorkipoo proved somewhat tricky.

“He had more than 1,000 names in the first week in the pub,” she said.

But a name was finally decided upon – Bertie Blackjack, in honour of her American uncle who used to enjoy taking on casino dealers in Atlantic City.

“He is not Marmie and will never be Marmie, but he is Bertie and is different and special,” she said.

“He is feisty, cheeky, adventurous – funny, fast and lovable – and fits in just perfect. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped bring us together.”

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