Alyssa Smith describes Dubai dog reunion
An 11-year-old girl who was reunited with her pet dog, which could have been destroyed after it was found half-starved on the streets of Dubai, has spoken of her joy.
Alyssa Smith, from Andover in Hampshire, said: "I want to spend every moment with her. She just makes my life happy."
For 18 months, Holly had been a much-loved family pet, adored by Alyssa.
But her father Darren Smith lost his job in the United Arab Emirates and the family was forced to suddenly leave the country.
The dog was left in the care of another family.
"We had no option but to give her up," Mr Smith said. "Holly would have to go into quarantine at a rate of £400 a month at the same time as we could be living on benefits that were much less than this.
"This caused lots of problems to the extent that my wife cancelled our flights home twice, even though we had no income and couldn't remain in Dubai."
Alyssa was heartbroken but the Smiths thought they had left Holly with a "nice family" and were confident she would be well looked after.
But months later, a chance visit to an internet site revealed that Holly was in trouble.
"It appears that shortly after leaving she was abandoned or lost by her new family," said Mr Smith.
"She was picked up by the municipality [council] covered in fleas and ticks, half-starved and dehydrated.
"They only keep dogs for three weeks and she was in a terrible state and was about to be put down when an animal rescue charity picked her up."
It was on their website that Mrs Smith saw Holly by chance. The family knew that this time they had to act to bring the dog to the UK.
Mr Smith said: "When there was a chance to bring her home we had to.
"I grumbled about the money but the look on my daughter's face was a priceless family moment."
It cost £1,300 and involved numerous vets but Holly finally arrived at their home in Andover last Thursday, and Mr and Mrs Smith were able to spring the happy surprise on their unsuspecting daughter.
The heart-warming reunion between Holly and Alyssa was captured on video by her parents and is quickly becoming a YouTube hit.
In just six days the video has been viewed more than 36,000 times.