The poster boy of the animal rescue sanctuary Huha (Helping You Help Animals), which has a shelter in Ōtaki, has died.

Worsening health meant Huha had to make the heartbreaking, but right decision, to put Reggie to sleep.

French Mastiff Reggie, 5, had been a key part of the Huha family for about three years after Lower Hutt Animal Control found him in a poor state.

The chained dog had untreated heart and joint disease, was bald, weighed only 43kg, and was depressed.

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"He looked incredibly broken and high maintenance," Huha founder Caroline Press-McKenzie said.

"But he had the biggest smile even though clearly he had not been having a great life."

Reggie with Carolyn Press-McKenzie. Photo / Jo Moore
Reggie with Carolyn Press-McKenzie. Photo / Jo Moore

Reggie underwent various health checks to determine what was going on inside and would end up having 21 tablets a day.

"He then started to blossom and everyday got up with such as good attitude and a lovely smile.

"We started Reggie's bucket list because we knew that the things going on with him would catch up with him sooner rather than later.

"We decided we wanted him to inspire people and to get their dogs off chains and to give them the love and care they deserved.

"We started posting a lot about him on our Facebook page and people started falling in love with him."

Reggie also had a special affinity with other animals.

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"We would bring in orphans and they would just plonk on him and he would sit with them.

"As he wobbled around they would snuggle into him.

Reggie looks after a piglet.
Reggie looks after a piglet.

"He just raised them with so much kindness and was a real grandad figure."

Reggie , whose weight would increase to 68kg, travelled with Huha throughout New Zealand helping with various animal rescues as well as seeing the sights of the country.

"He pretty much went everywhere.

"I went to Rotorua once to pick up an abandoned puppy that was missing a foot and he nursed it all the way back.

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"Everywhere you went, everyone would know him, it was hilarious.

"We had a woman drive down from Tauranga to meet him and she cried when she did."

Reggie's death was a hard loss, compounded by the Covid 19 coronavirus situation, but his life was one of inspiration.

"Everyday Reggie reminded us how to be kind, inclusive, supportive, and that all animals do matter.

Front seat passenger.
Front seat passenger.

"He was an amazing mentor and teacher.

"I feel incredibly proud."

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And the example he set should never be forgotten.

"Be kind and be inclusive."