ANIMAL lovers Susan and Celia Gaines went on holiday to Greece to see loggerhead turtles, native to the island of Zakynthos.

But it was a bedraggled stray dog that won the hearts of the travelling mother and daughter - and months on arrangements have been made to bring their new friend back to south Bucks.

Susan, of Bishopstone, near Aylesbury, said: "After settling in we went for a walk around the surroundings. Relaxing by the pool Mum noticed a stray dog wandering around.

"Each day we saw the dog who we named Cher. She was very thin, unsteady on her feet and so hungry it was trying to eat some paper. It pulled at my heartstrings straight away."

Where others may have simply ignored the pooch's plight Susan and Celia did the opposite, seeking out an animal welfare group on the island.

The couple saved food from the hotel breakfast and evening meal and kept Cher well fed and watered, and island volunteer Beryl came to examine her.

Tests revealed the mongrel was malnourished, had distemper affecting her sight and to top it off was pregnant with eight pups - which were put down to save her.

Susan added: "Our flight home was full of talk about Cher. In the care of Beryl and her husband, Cher began to get better, putting on weight and even wagging her tail."

Now healthier and rid of disease Cher is preparing for a 1,000 mile trip back to Bishopstone to be reunited with her new loving owners.

Celia, added: "We've already got a dog called Sonny so they will make a right pair. It's horrible to see such beautiful animals so badly neglected.

"An English couple drive to Zakynthos twice a year to help Beryl in her work. Next time they've offered to bring Cher back. She is being chauffeured to England."

Animal welfare organisations in south Bucks have commended the actions of mother and daughter.

A RSPCA spokesman said: "The lengths this couple have gone through to improve the life of one dog is amazing. They have set a great example."