Kind-hearted restaurant staff paid customer’s bill after she took her dying dog in for her last supper – a filet mignon.
Elaine Potter took her 14-year-old Maltese terrier Phoebe in to her favourite restaurant for her last meal, before taking her to be put down.
Former breeder Elaine, 50, decided to end her beloved pet’s suffering on Monday, after the little dog battled cancer for eight months, but wanted to give her a day to remember first.
After watching the Armistice Day memorial in bed and then a nice bath, the pair went for a walk along West Wittering beach.
Elaine knew she had to end her suffering – but wanted to take her friend for one last meal first.
Mum-of-two Elaine, of Selsey, West Sussex, said: “She had a cancerous lump and she was having trouble breathing when lying down and was sleeping all the time.
“I knew it was time.”
She said: “I just thought it was fitting because her stomach was so bloated. I thought about a rotisserie chicken but then thought ‘no, she deserves more’.”
The adorable dog “absolutely loved” her final meal, which she ate from a low table in front of a fire as Elaine cried uncontrollably.
Elaine chose to take Phoebe to the Earl of March, a fine dining country pub in Chichester, West Sussex.
She told staff about the tragic story and they pampered Phoebe with “lots of cuddles” before serving up the custom dish, on a silver platter.
Elaine said: “I didn’t want her eating off the floor like a dog – she was my baby.
“I’ve been to the Earl of March before and they are absolutely fabulous so I went in and told them what was happening.
“They made me feel so welcome and they didn’t stop cuddling her.”
Elaine said she was so embarrassed during the meal because she “couldn’t stop crying.”
But when she went to pay the bill, at the fine dining pub, in Chichester, West Sussex, kindly staff decided to pay for the £29 fillet steak themselves.
Elaine added: “To have that, I couldn’t believe it. It was so emotional.
“They took so much care and cuddles and they took pictures of us. I’m so grateful to all the staff there and Suzanne Rich in particular. I just can’t thank them enough.
“It really was a fitting send off for my big baby.”
Elaine, whose chronic hip pain leaves her virtually housebound, shares her bed with her many dogs and dresses them in a colourful array of pet clothes.
She said: “All dog owners will say their pets are adorable, but Maltese are the most angelic loving breed.
“They are so beautiful and know when you are hurting.
“They lie around the small of my back and lick my tears when I’m in pain.
“They are my pure white angels.”
Elaine described her ‘woeful’ walk to the car before driving the “longest drive” of her life to have Phoebe put to sleep.
Describing her dog’s final moments, the distraught owner said: “I put my face right up to hers. I was the last thing that she saw.
“It was lovely, it really was.”
Elaine was grateful to Phoebe’s vet Jose Monreal from Vets4Pets, in Rustington, West Sussex.
She said: “Jose was brilliant. He wrapped her in a pink blanket because he knows how much I love the colour.
“When I brought her home she was still warm. All the other dogs came over to say goodbye.
“They smelt her and nudged her. She looked so peaceful.”
Phoebe was cremated on Wednesday morning alongside a squishy toy her son bought.
She joined another of Elaine’s dogs in a handmade urn.
Elaine plans to do the same with the other nine dogs – Coco, Rosie, Jack, Lily, Darcey, Rex, Sophie, Pucci and Lucie – and even wants to be buried alongside them herself.
Elaine said: “I want to raise money to put a statue of Phoebe in my back garden.
“It’s such a peaceful place and I would put it alongside my angels and buddhas.
“When my other dogs die they will go with me in my coffin.”
In memory of Phoebe, Elaine and her son will have the ashes made into ink and tattooed onto their backs in the shape of her paw.