James and Mel returned from their holiday on the island of Mauritius with much more than a suntan after meeting a loveable stray pooch. Naming her after her picturesque homeland, the young couple loved their holiday hound so much they decided to bring her home! Mel Dees, 23, from Angmering, shares her story…

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My partner James and I were enjoying the first night of our holiday in Mauritius with a late-night dip in the hotel pool when our lives changed forever. A small strawberry-blond dog trotted out of the darkness and stood staring at us. James, 32, loves pooches and went straight over to make a fuss of her.

But me, I’ve never been a dog person. So why was I feeling the urge to go over and make friends? Something I couldn’t explain was pulling me towards this pretty pup.

‘She must be a stray,’ said James, noticing that the skinny doggy had no collar.

My heart melted, and I soon found myself gathering her up in my arms for a cuddle, wishing we could bring her home with us. Don’t be silly, I told myself.

That night, James and I brought her back to our apartment for the night, and the next morning, we woke to find our furry new friend snuggled up between us on the bed! We brought her some cooked meats back from the breakfast buffet, and she scoffed them down straight away. After that, we’d leave the back door to our apartment open during the day, and arrive home from our excursions to find the cheeky pooch waiting for us!

She’d follow us to restaurants of an evening too, and sit by our feet, but we didn’t mind. She had such a lovely personality that we loved having her around. In fact she was around so much that we started calling her Mauritius, after her beautiful homeland.

By our fifth day on holiday, James and I had reached an unspoken agreement. Mauritius was coming home with us. We both knew it.

James and Mel 1 cropped

Our friend Barbara Stockley had done the same thing a few years before, so she researched and explained the complicated process of bringing a dog back to the UK. She also found us a local dog charity and nearby vet’s, so Mauritius could get her jabs.

‘She’s worth it,’ I told James, and he agreed.

Soon, we had to go home, but Mauritius had to say in quarantine with the dog charity for three weeks before being allowed into the UK. Leaving her behind was utterly heartbreaking.

‘We’ll see you very soon,’ I said tearfully, kissing her goodbye. Though we’d only known Mauritius for a few days, we knew we were going to miss her very much.

As soon as we were back in the UK, we threw ourselves into organising her transfer home as soon as possible. There was so much to do, sorting out her passport, arranging the flight…

Unfortunately, our poor girl ended up staying in quarantine for five long weeks, as the airline began to have doubts about the crate size, which resulted in delays.

‘I hate the thought of her still being over there all alone,’ I sighed.

‘Maybe there’s another way…’ said James.

Luckily, there was. The charity suggested that we fly Mauritius to Germany instead, and pick her up from there, as the crate laws there were more relaxed. At first, we weren’t sure. But it seemed as if she could be stuck in quarantine for weeks unless we did something, so we agreed.

And, on 16 March, James and I drove the six-hour journey to Frankfurt airport to be reunited with Mauritius. As soon as James approached her crate, she began barking and licking with excitement. She’d recognised our scents!

‘She’s as happy that we’re all together again as we are!’ I laughed.

James and Mauritus 2 cropped

We thought we’d let her stretch her legs after her own long journey. Only, the collar we put on her was too loose, and she slipped her head out of it and went speeding off into the crowds. Ducking in and out of travellers, we chased her frantically through the airport – and, just as she reached the exit I shouted out, ‘Mauritius!’

She ground to a halt and looked back at me before cheekily trotting back over. Life was going to be fun with this one! Panic over, we finally made our way back to the car and hit the road.

‘Are you excited to see your new home?’ I cooed to our precious pooch, who sat happily on James’ lap in the car as I drove.

Overall, we’d spent £1,500 bringing Mauritius back to the UK, but it really was worth every penny. She’s settled in at home so well. In the time she’s been with us, Mauritius has only become more affectionate, always up for a cuddle on the sofa.

Looking at her gazing lovingly up me, I know we made the right decision. She’s going to be spoilt rotten!