Six-legged 'mermaid' dog finds new home by the sea

A dog born with six legs and dumped in a supermarket car park has finally found her forever home.

Ariel made headlines around the world when, aged 11 weeks, she was discovered outside a Pembrokeshire branch of a supermarket last October.

About £15,000 was then raised by well-wishers for a life-changing operation to remove her extra back limbs, which partially fused together to resemble a mermaid's tail.

Now the spaniel - named after Disney's The Little Mermaid - has finally been adopted, aptly starting a new life by the sea with a couple who teach people with disabilities how to surf.

She had been initially looked after by Greenacres Rescue near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, which was then deluged with calls from hundreds of people who had read about her plight and wanted to adopt her.

At about the same time Emma-Mary Webster and Ollie Bird were recovering from losing their own dog of 16 years, a labrador/German shorthaired pointer cross called Pippin.

"Pippin was a lovely boy who was swimming in the sea and climbing rocks right up until the day before he died suddenly," said Ollie, 40, who runs the Pembrokeshire-based Blue Horizons Surf Club alongside his partner.

"We were so heartbroken we felt like we'd never get another dog, but the hole he left in our lives was so huge we realised we had to try to fill it somehow.

"So we applied to Greenacres to see if they had any dogs up for adoption, not long after which a volunteer rang saying she thought she had the perfect candidate for us."

At that point he and Emma-Mary, 50, had no idea who Ariel was.

"She was brought to ours for a home visit and took to the place straight away, really made herself comfortable," he said.

"Neither of us were at all aware we had a celebrity in our midst."

"Even now, whenever we take her for a walk along the coast someone will come over and ask for a selfie with her.

"And Ariel adores the attention, not to mention beach life and splashing around in the water."

She has also become a big part of the daily goings-on at the surf club.

"Me and Emma-Mary got the idea for Blue Horizons after Covid because lots of our friends had gone through a very hard time," he said.

"We really wanted to help with their sense of well-being, after which we decided to make things as inclusive as possible."

The club now specialises in adaptive surf lessons and boat trips for people of all ages with a range of physical and mental disabilities, including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and dementia.

"Ariel loves being part of those lessons too," said Ollie.

"She's always a big hit with whoever we take out onto the waves and she never stops wanting to play."

He added that despite her difficult start in life - having also been born with an extra vulva and only one kidney - Ariel has virtually made a full recovery.

"You should see how excited she gets whenever we get out her leash, not to mention the way she runs around on the sand," he said.

"Other than a tiny bit of nerve damage in one of her back legs you'd never think she'd ever had anything wrong with her."