'Help me get my dog back' - Blind councillor's emotional plea to public in search for lost poodle
A blind DUP councillor has pleaded live on air for help in tracing her lost poodle, who was last seen running around the Rush area in County Dublin.
Cllr Janet Gray broke down in tears as she called into RTE’s Liveline after spotting her toy poodle Holli in Chapel Green in Rush after the small dog escaped for a friend’s house four days ago.
“She’s really important to me because I got her, and her twin brother, after I was left crippled in an accident in Florida in 2004,” Ms Gray said.
“She just means the world to me, they’re both my babies, and I’m desperate to get her back.”
Getting a tip that the lost dog was in Rush, Ms Gray travelled to the area and manage to catch sight of the toy poodle.
“We spotted her but there was a lot of youths around and with the traffic we couldn't get to her before she ran off.
“She wouldn’t even come to me, she just bolted. If someone could just entice her into a garden or shed or something and call me, we can come pick her up."
Blinded at the age of 21 due to a rare eye condition, Ms Gray went on to become a talented water ski athlete, winning three world championships before she was involved in horrific accident that left her unable to walk for a time.
“I use to spend three months during the winter training in Florida, and one day I went out for a routine training exercise when I was whipped suddenly into a big metal sky ramp,” she told Liveline.
Reliving the incident, Ms Gray said she had been left “with my elbows and wrists broken, a number of snapped tendons, multiple dislocations in my hip and pelvis and most of my lower body.”
“Worst of all, my face was wiped out. As a girl, it felt like I’d lost my identity.”
Eleven years on, Mr Gray said she was hopeful that a surgery in September would be her last, “My doctors have done an amazing job rebuilding my face,” she added.
“When I see that poor girl [Clodagh Cogley] from the Berkeley tragedy beginning her own recovery alongside a dog, it brings back just how much Holli and her twin brother helped me.”
Asked if she had any words of encouragement to the eight students seriously injured in the accident, the former water ski champion said: “All you can say is that you’ve got to keep fighting.
“People told me I’d never walk again and that I shouldn’t have survived but I did.
“I was the only person who believed I’d walk again and I clung to that belief and made it happen. I just wanted my life back.
"You’ve got to belief you can do it because if you keep fighting you’ll be amazed what you can overcome."
There is a "substantial reward" for the safe return of Holli, and if anyone has any information about her whereabouts, they are asked to contact 0868031149 and/or 0872638287.