Catchphrase: Shirley Ballas dances with Stephen Mulhern

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Shirley, an ambassador for our sister site TeamDogs, rescued Charlie three-and-a-half years ago and since then he has been her “everything”. The little Lhaso Apso was by her side as she battled coronavirus and when she received the heartbreaking news her father had died.

She told BBC Merseyside: “I am just getting over five weeks of the coronavirus and I’ve been on my own and Charlie has sat at my feet, snuggled and cuddled and just looked at me.

“I had the passing of my father in the last few days and it’s almost like he knows.

“I get emotional just talking about him. He is just really sincerely loyal, caring and kind. I have no words for my Charlie.

“Other people will come and go but that dog will be here until he decides he wants to go to doggy heaven. For me he is my everything.”

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Research carried out by recently-launched website TeamDogs revealed one in five new dog owners admitted to pandemic puppy regret – and Shirley is urging pet owners to seek advice and support through the TeamDogs community.

She said: “TeamDogs will direct all new dog lovers, or anybody actually, to be able to connect with other people about their dogs.

“When you get a dog it is for life and a lot of research is definitely necessary. They can bring so much joy but people need to understand that we have a community out there where you can connect with other dog owners and lovers who can help you with advice and support.

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“Please don’t give up on them. If there is any chance at all that you can work it out go to the site and talk to other people. They are beautiful little souls and they will be the most loyal thing in your life.

“You have to do some research and organise something for these little dogs. When I go back to work I have a team around me of people who will take him for a walk. 

“You can’t just leave them. They have been used to you for the whole year, their whole life for some, and we have to make provisions and think about them.

“They are like children and have feelings and if they could talk they would – Charlie would anyway. A dog is not just for a year, it’s for life.”

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