Tails of a Dog Therapist – Episode Fourteen

Last weekend was a big one in our house. Forget Easter!! Our big beasty girl turned 3 years old on Sunday. 

Bella arrived with me at 8 months old after she had been abandoned in a local Pets at Home. Having previously worked for the company for a lot of years I still have a few friends there who know that I like to take in waifs and strays. So I was asked if I could help and I collected her from a friends house the next day.

She was severely underweight and didn’t appear to have any muscle build up at all, which was really unusual for a Dogue de Bordeaux because they’re very heavy, muscular dogs. As I watched her walk it became apparent that she wasn’t moving properly and she limped on every leg. There wasn’t one step she took where she wasn’t showing signs of pain.

I got her to the vet and they diagnosed her with elbow dysplasia in both elbows and hip dysplasia in both hips and recommended that she see a specialist. Having only had her a couple of days I didn’t have an active insurance policy for her and even if I did it wouldn’t have covered her because the conditions were pre existing, so I had to find a way to raise the money myself.

I set up a fundraising page and started arranging some fundraising events for her. I rang a local newspaper to enquire about advertising the events and they offered to do a feature about her to try and get her some donations. Obviously I jumped at that chance and during the interview I mentioned the fact that I had 22 dogs.

Within a week of the article being published I had National newspapers wanting to do features on the amount of dogs I had and my lifestyle. I also appeared on ITV’s This Morning to talk about it!! 

(Here’s the link if anyone wants to see it https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FXA5IziyFrM)

We managed to raise the funds with the help of some amazing people and some overly generous donations and Bella had bone chips removed from her elbows that same year. She still has the dysplasia in the joints but we now manage that with hydrotherapy and physiotherapy and her muscles are now supporting her joints enough that she’s living a normal, pain free life. 

During all of the fundraising I set Bella up her own Facebook page so that her supporters could follow her progress and even though it has been two years since we went through all of that, I still like to post the occasional update on there. So we celebrated her birthday in style and posted photo’s on the page for everyone to see. 

I ordered her a doggy birthday cake and she had a tiara and birthday bunting as a sash. Then the other dogs all had birthday hats and we photographed each one.

Getting the photos was fun, there was no way we were getting one of them all together so we did each dog one at a time or did them in pairs. In the end we were taking bursts of 30 photos at a time in the hope that we’d get at least one decent one and we had over 500 photos to sift through!!

My favourites were the ones of Bella with her cake because if anyone has ever tried to stop a 43kg Dogue from eating something they really want then they’ll know it’s not easy!! Especially not when there’s several other dogs in the room that are all trying to creep closer and grab a bite. At one point I let my guard down and Bella got a lick of the icing, she was very proud of herself for that.

It was a lot of work for the few photos that we got but the dogs behaved amazingly and I was so proud of all of them and I love showing them all off. 

Happy Birthday Bella next year we’ll go bigger and better.