It’s a simple pleasure that dog owner Anthony Ross had come to take for granted.
But as the 61-year-old proudly strode out for a walk with three of his ‘bairns’ he admitted it was a day he feared he would never see again.
Mr Ross’s 14 German Shepherd dogs were seized during an environmental health swoop at his home in Lulworth Avenue, Jarrow, in June due to concerns for their welfare.
Now more than two months on, three of his precious pets have been returned to him.
Mr Ross agreed to keep to an order stating that 11 of the dogs would be rehomed last week, with South Tyneside Council believing it was not sustainable to keep such a large number of dogs together under one roof.
The dogs have been neutered and he has agreed to take part in an education programme on responsible ownership.
But he insists he was able to look after all of his pets and they were all well-watered and fed.
But they agreed for him to have custody of three of the dogs, leaving him with a ‘heartbreaking’ decision to decide which of his four-legged friends to bring back home.
Mr Ross retrieved Zeus, Apollo and Chance from West Hall Kennels, in Cleadon, this week.
He said: “It’s nice to have them back, they are like my bairns.
“I would’ve wanted to get them all back, but this is the best I can hope for.
“My friend has taken on my two older dogs, Major and Simba, and I will be able to see them every day. But I can’t have anymore than three dogs - or I could end up being evicted.
“I didn’t think I would get the chance to walk the dogs again.”
South Tyneside Council said it secured a warrant to remove the pets from Mr Ross’s property due to concerns over their mental and physical health.
A council spokesman said: “The council secured a warrant and removed 14 dogs from the property in June following concerns raised about the welfare of the animals.
“The dogs were examined by a vet and it was considered that their mental and physical health would likely suffer due to their large number in such a limited space.
“Since then we have been working with Mr Ross to agree a way forward.
“He can have three of the dogs returned, with conditions attached. The court order also permitted that the remaining 11 dogs be rehomed.”