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Dog lovers across the kingdom have been heartbroken by the loss of adorable chocolate-brown rescue dog, Baloo, who recently laid his paws to rest, as reported in our sister newspaper, The Gulf Daily News, writes Mai Al-Khatib-Camille.
The 15-year-old education support dog, who brought joy and laughter to autistic children and book lovers from across the kingdom, suffered a heart attack while on a walk with his owner, Bahrain-based British author Sarah Clarke.
Sarah said: “I’m grateful he wasn’t in any pain. That is all I could have wished for him. When he passed away, he was surrounded by all those that loved him including my husband, David, and his handler Hari Pandey with his wife Sushma Gautam. We will miss him so much.
“He has lived a long and happy life and has moved so many people. I’ve never met a dog like Baloo. I have learned many lessons from him as I’m sure others have too. He never complained and accepted what came his way. It is something we should all live by.”
Baloo spread the message of inclusivity and equality at different schools and organisations with Sarah, who volunteers at the RIA Institute Bahrain.
The institute is an inclusive education centre that caters to the needs of students with special needs. She developed a programme called Baloo’s Buddies in which the lovable Labrador helped children become more confident.
She also founded Baloo’s Reading Buddies, held at The Bookcase store on Budaiya Highway in Saar and supported by Linda Jennings to aid children with their fluency, as well as build up their passion for books.
Sarah wrote two books called Where’s Baloo? and This Way Baloo! too, illustrated by artist Sunanda Docherty. Thousands of copies were sold to help raise funds for RIA.
Baloo didn’t just make people feel equal; he did the same with his furry friends too. He helped rescued strays with the collection of 2,000 cans in a ‘Just One Can’ dog food appeal, which Sarah encourages people to continue supporting.
For Baloo’s legacy, Sarah would love there to be a fully-fledged therapy dog programme in Bahrain for supporting mental well-being and those that wish to share their favourite stories and memories of Baloo on social media can hashtag #baloosbuddies.
For more details, follow @baloosbuddies on Instagram. Also visit www.gdnlife.com to read a special poem about Baloo.