Red Cross Port Pirie go above and beyond for bereaved dog owner

COMPANION: John Launer with new best friend Millie at his Risdon Park South home.
COMPANION: John Launer with new best friend Millie at his Risdon Park South home.

“She’s the boss around here.”

As John Launer looked fondly at his new dog Millie scratching her back on his lounge room floor, the affection he felt for his new four-legged-friend filled the room.

The 11-year-old silky terrier maltese shih tzu cross’ tail then wagged profusely, mumbling a growl as if to talk to John, as she tossed her toy kangaroo around the room.

Millie was clearly comfortable in her new home and John could not have been happier.

But it was not always this way.

After John lost his elderly dog Gypsy and his cat in same month, he admitted to feeling lost.

“We were close … when Gypsy died it was a bit hard to get up in the morning and I thought I had to get another little dog,” John said.

Fortunately John’s wish came true thanks to the work of Red Cross Port Pirie.

With one son in Thailand and the other in Point Turton, John used the Port Pirie-based Safety Call support service daily.

The service is the biggest regional service hub in South Australia and sees volunteers make about 100 care and social phone calls to residents in the Mid North to check on their welfare and give them company.

After hearing that John was feeling out of sorts following the loss of Gypsy, the Red Cross scoured their networks and found Millie who was looking for a new home – it was the perfect fit.

Red Cross regional coordinator Rebecca Cunningham said the Safety Call support service was about care and connection.

The pairing of a dog with a new owner was a first for the service.

“When we heard that John was feeling a bit lost after losing Gypsy, we reached out to our network and managed to find Millie,” Rebecca said.

“She came from a family environment with four kids – it was all a bit much for her,” Rebecca said.

“Now Millie can come here with John and keep him company – it looks like Millie is definitely fitting in here.”

Red Cross Port Pirie volunteer engagement officer Claire Magliulo said the experience was moving for all involved.

“To see John’s face when we arrived with Millie was so rewarding,” Claire said.

​“To be able to do something extra … it’s what I see everyday not just from volunteers but staff, too.”

John thanked Red Cross Port Pirie for their work and reflected on the impact Millie had made on his life.

“She settled straight in as if she’d been here forever,” John said.

“She’s a little beauty,” he said with a smile.