Meet Sox - the Staffordshire terrier from Hunstanton who overcame homelessness and depression, who’s being honoured with a Norfolk Green bus named after him
- Credit: Matthew Usher
He's come through homelessness and depression with his tail still wagging. Now a seven-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier is set to become the latest in a long line of Norfolk characters to be honoured by having a bus named after them.
King's Lynn-based Norfolk Green has named more than 50 of its single and double-deckers after statesmen and seafarers, heroes and heroines, explorers and industrialists. One even bears the name of the dreaded devil dog of the Fens, Black Shuck.
Tomorrow a plaque bearing the name of the distinctly less-fearsome Sox the Staffie will be unveiled on one of its vehicles, at a special ceremony in Hunstanton.
Sox was nominated by Ian Wiseman, who looks after him while his neighbour Jill Walsh is working. Mr Wiseman started taking him to the RSPCA charity shop in the resort's Greevegate, while he worked there as a volunteer.
Sox became part of the furniture, greeting and entertaining customers - despite the Staffie's aggressive reputation.
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'Until recently I volunteered at the Hunstanton RSPCA shop and the dog was always there with me,' said Mr Wiseman, who now works in a nearby furniture showroom.
'He used to stand up and put his paws on the counter to get a fuss. The kids loved him, they absolutely adored him. They'd sit with him behind the counter, while their parents went round the shop.
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'He has become something of a celebrity in the area so I approached Norfolk Green as they have a policy of naming buses after well-known people.'
Sox has had his share of ups and downs. He found himself in the care of the RSPCA, after being made homeless when his previous owner's circumstances changed.
Pictures of dogs in the animal shelter at Eau Brink, near King's Lynn, line one window of the RSPCA shop. Sox joined the sea of sad faces that gaze out from the china and the bric-a-brac.
Staffies, with their fearsome reputation, are hard to rehome. Dejected Sox was at rock bottom before Jill Walsh, a 55-year-old shop assistant from Hunstanton, set eyes on him.
'I've had Sox since Christmas five years ago,' she said. 'When I got him, he'd been in the kennels six months. He was in a terrible state, he was depressed. It's a Staffie trait.
'He had a little sign saying please don't walk past me, I've been here six months and all I want is a bit of love. He put his head on my shoulder, he looked at me with his big brown eyes and that was that.'
Sox soon perked up after he moved into Mrs Walsh's flat in Glebe Avenue. She quickly realised he was a bit of a character.
He jumps up and down, barking what sounds like a gruff 'hullo, hullo', when you tell him to speak.
'He's a fantastically intelligent dog, he's so funny, he loves people,' said Mrs Walsh. Apart from chasing rocks on the beach and the odd dip in the sea, Sox's favourite pastime is holding court at the RSPCA shop.
'People go in the shop just to see Sox, he's an incredible dog,' said Mrs Walsh. 'Last year, he got 20 Christmas presents. He hasn't even opened them all yet.'
A spokesman for Norfolk Green said: 'We were contacted by Ian Wiseman to ask if we'd consider naming one of our buses after Sox the Staffie.
'He's quite a character and quite well-known in the Hunstanton area. People just approach us and say could you possibly name one of your buses after someone.
'There's no rhyme or reason to it. If they're local people who've been recognised in some way we'll consider their request.'
The ceremony takes place at Hunstanton bus station at 12noon tomorrow.