Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 12:09 UK

Soap dog Wellard to be killed off

Wellard needed a new home after Keith Miller kicked him out

The canine actor who plays Wellard in the BBC One's EastEnders is to retire from the show, it has been announced.

Viewers will see Wellard killed off later this year. The Belgium shepherd, a bitch called Kyte, has featured in the soap for 14 years.

Wellard has, in fact, been played by three different dogs from the same family - Kyte, her mother and grandma.

Wellard arrived in Walford in 1994 when Robbie Jackson, played by Dean Gaffney, found him wandering the streets.

After learning the newcomer had been mistreated by his owners, Robbie took the dog in and named him Wellard for "well hard", meaning very tough.

Willy: EastEnders
Schmeichel: Coronation Street
Bouncer: Neighbours
Batley: Emmerdale

The dog has had his fair share of the limelight during his starring years in Albert Square.

In February 2003, he was run over, delaying owner Robbie's move to India.

When Robbie left to go travelling, Wellard was passed to his sister Sonia, played by Natalie Cassidy, to look after. She later passed him on to her friend Gus.

Two years later, Wellard was incarcerated after biting bit Ian Beale on his bottom. Campaign T-shirts and posters with the slogan 'Walford One Owed Freedom' (WOOF) were designed to help raise awareness of the dog's plight.

Robbie Jackson and Wellard
Robbie and Wellard were best friends

Following a trial, Wellard was allowed to return home provided Gus kept him on a lead at all times.

Last year he was taken from outside the cafe. Kidnappers demanded ransom money, but the dog was swiftly released.

When Gus left Albert Square earlier this year, Wellard was passed to his friend Mickey Miller.

The Millers could not handle another pet so Mickey sold the dog to Vinnie as a present for Shirley, but she did not want him.

Bianca Jackson's daughter, Whitney, then traded a pineapple for Wellard.

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