STRICTLY Come Dancing couple Gemma Atkinson and Gorka Marquez spent the day cooing over a puppy called Pickle who faces a life-saving operation.

Bury-born actress Gemma and beau Gorka made a special visit to Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, where Gemma is president, where they met the adorable pooch.

Pickle, a Chihuahua cross Jack Russell was purchased on Gumtree earlier this year, but had to be taken to the Edenfield sanctuary after failing to gain weight.

The Bury Times previously reported that Pickle weighed just 400g, less than half the weight of a bag of sugar, when he was bought from the online selling site at the beginning of February.

Pickle became an instant hit at Bleakholt, and now he has won over stars Gemma and Gorka, who are expecting their first baby in a few weeks.

"I fell in love with Pickle and hope, once he has had his operation, he will lead a healthy and happy life", said Gemma, who has two dogs of her own, Ollie and Norman.

"Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary is a superb charity and Pickle is in the best hands, like all the animals at Bleakholt."

Pickle's owner, who did not want to be named, told the Bury Times there was something wrong when within a week of her taking him home, his condition rapidly deteriorated.

Bleakholt staff found that Pickle has a spinal condition which is causing his vertebra to press on his spine, and making it difficult to walk.

Operation manager Karen Weed, who has looked after Pickle since he arrived, said: “The good news is Pickle can have surgery but the bad news is he does have a higher risk with anaesthetic.

“Should the operation be successful he should have a good quality of life without the need for further treatment.

“Without surgery he will be unable to walk and it would be unfair to continue.

“Due to his size and complex condition it is a spinal specialist operation which requires equipment to be made especially for him and so the cost does run into thousands of pounds."

Anyone wishing to donate to Pickle should visit