The story of Lizzie.

In 2000, by chance, I came across a young Greyhound bitch. She was in a sorry state, very thin, depressed, and quite defensive. She was being kept in a dark shed with no bedding or access to water. After negotiations, she came home with us to join our other two Greys and luckily seemed to get on with them. Her background was awful. She had been a very successful racing dog and had been sold to a man who regularly beat her for no reason other than he just felt like it. I was told that he would beat her unconscious with a metal food bowl for spilling her food. I did not blame her for all the behavioural problems she had. She was a very difficult dog to bond with, due to her previous abuse. However, she did bond instantly with my partner, Gordon, and to this day is a real Daddy's girl through and through and they adore each other.

Her anxiety manifested itself in two ways. She would soil in the house constantly, despite regular toilet trips and walks. She was also incredibly destructive. In the space of two years, she cost us thousands of pounds to repair the 'Lizzie damage'. She successfully ate and dug her way through a door, skirting boards, floorboards, and an enormous hole in a plaster wall. She also destroyed many pieces of furniture, including a very expensive, heavy pine bed frame. However, that did not matter; she could not help it.

Lizzie eventually overcame her problems and was successfully toilet trained by 2003. She stopped destroying things and slowly mellowed, becoming a very sweet, happy, confident dog who we absolutely adore. She became the 'mother' of the pack and keeps Colin the lurcher, Blue Bob the Grey, and Daniel the Galgo in check. It still touches me to see her gazing adoringly at Gordon and she likes to keep him clean, lying on top of him and giving him a good 'lick wash'. Wherever he goes, she follows and Gordon still calls her his 'sweet pea'. They truly have an unbreakable bond.

Unfortunately, last year we nearly lost our darling girl. In June 2005, Lizzie was playing in the garden with one of our other dogs, our Lurcher, Colin. There was an ear-splitting scream, a sound that we never want to hear again in our lives. Lizzie was standing shaking, holding one leg up and could not walk. After a few minutes, she seemed better but we took her to the Vet's anyway. Lizzie was initially diagnosed with a soft tissue injury and it was thought to be due to an old racing injury in her shoulder. Painkillers and rest were prescribed but she did not get any better. Numerous trips to the Vet later, she was still pretty much the same and we all thought we were getting nowhere. X-rays showed nothing so we were stumped. Meanwhile, our Vet's bill was mounting at a very alarming rate. Our Vet decided to refer us to an Orthopaedic Specialist, one of the leading Orthopaedic Vets in the country, to see if he could find out what was wrong. We knew it was going to be very expensive, but she was worth it.

On examination, he found the problem to be coming from her neck. He thought it could be a tumour on her spine, or a slipped disc. She was immediately admitted for tests that evening. She had extensive x-rays, a spinal tap and a myelogram. Results showed that it was 2 slipped discs in her neck and that she would require surgery to take them out. We were prepared to pay anything to help her so we went ahead with it. The Vet expected her to have a 90% improvement following surgery and that she should improve very quickly. He also warned us that 5% of dogs do not respond well to the operation but he was positive that Lizzie would be great afterwards.

Within 2 days of her being discharged after the operation, Lizzie started to deteriorate. She was in agony and was screaming and yelping and she couldn't get comfortable at all. She was also exhausted. We got very strong painkillers from our own Vet but they didn't seem to make much difference. One morning it seemed that Lizzie had given up completely. The poor wee soul was exhausted and in so much pain. She would not eat and we were struggling to syringe feed her water. Our Vet went out of her way to make a home visit as poor Lizzie could barely move. She was given an injection of very strong painkillers and some more tablets for later on that evening. We are extremely lucky to have such a wonderful Vet who knows our dogs and us very well indeed. We shared a look that meant the end was near for our poor wee dog. If she did not improve over the next few hours, she was to be admitted to the Veterinary Hospital to get her pain under control. She got worse and was admitted shortly afterwards. We were all sure she wouldn't come home again and were devastated. Our Vet, and a Nurse, stayed up all night at the hospital with Lizzie, as they were so concerned.

Unbelievably, against all odds, Lizzie slowly started to respond to the treatment and 2 days later, an extremely happy, 'waggy' dog greeted us! Thanks to our wonderful Vet, Lizzie came home and slowly made progress. Within a week, Lizzie was leaping around the kitchen like an idiot and is now back to normal. She has made a wonderful recovery and darts about like 2 year old, despite her being eight this year! Now the painful bit…

The investigations at the Orthopaedic Specialist came to almost £800. The operation cost over £1000. Consultations, investigations, treatments, drugs, home visits, and hospitalisation at our own Vet came to over £3000. Her treatment is ongoing so that will steadily increase. One year on and the total has almost reached £7000. Our insurance only contributed £500. We were lucky to be in a position to pay for this, as the alternative was to have her put to sleep, which was unthinkable, especially as the problem could be fixed. Gordon still says he would pay it ten times over to see his girl back to normal. She is worth every single penny. Needless to say, we changed insurance companies for all of our dogs and made sure that they all have the best cover available. Who knows what is around the corner?

Fiona Reekie.

This is Lizzie.

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