Story - Merlin

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Merlin has appeared on the gallery pages a few times, when I first adopted him and then when he was 12 years old.

He is now 15 and still as much a character as he has always been. I had breast cancer shortly followed by Merlin who had liver cancer at 11 years old. He had a quarter of his liver removed but made an amazing recovery thanks to my vet and North Down Specialist Referrals.

Unfortunately we lost Minty 3 years ago to cancer and Merlin was totally lost without him, they had always been so close.

Our lives changed a lot, I had to go out to work again, locally in a pet shop which means I could take him to work if necessary and if not then always come home at lunchtime, he also gets lovely things from the shop! But not working from home has made it difficult for me to get another friend for Merlin.

In November 2016 he suddenly became paralysed! My vet said he needed an emergency referral either to Fitzpatricks or NDSR whoever had the first appointment. It turned out to be NDSR which was good because I know where that is. He had an MRI and various X-Rays. They found a piece of cartilage had interrupted his spinal cord. This was the result of him having historically received damage to two vertebrae in his neck, amazing it took all these years for this to happen and lucky I had always walked him in a harness not a collar. He spent a week at NDSR and received physiotherapy, the nurses did a fabulous job. Back home I continued with the physiotherapy the nurses had shown me, massaging his legs several times a day and taking him for 6-8 very small walks.

In the beginning he was rather like Bambi on ice but gradually he did improve. When I took him for his last appointment the Neurologist who had been caring from him said that they had not expected him to walk again let alone walk as well as he was, she asked if we could go outside and take some video of Merlin walking, she was that amazed at his recovery. A good thing about him having to have these X-Rays and MRI was that it showed his liver had fully rejuvenated and was working perfectly and there were no other signs of cancer anywhere in his body, his heart and spleen were fine but also that again historically probably about the same time that his neck got injured he also got 2 broken ribs.

Poor boy to have gone through such terrible treatment when he was so little! Thank goodness I had a pension pot, the boys were insured but when I lost my well paid job I could not renew their insurance! His current condition is generally good apart from, and wait for it - he is anorexic!! My vet has put him on the human drug for anorexics and he is doing OK but to add to this problem he has also developed kidney disease, so trying to tempt a dog who does not want to eat anything (even roast beef!) and try to look after his kidneys is a challenge.

My vet has given me a powder that I add to any non K/D food to help support his kidneys and of course he really does not like the K/D food! His windpipe is also half paralysed, probably again a result of the neck injury. So if he gets over hot, frightened or over excited and pants too fast, he has what I can only describe as a full on panic attack. He had one a few weeks ago, we were going to the vet for his blood test to check his kidney function and someone pulled right out in front of me and Merlin went flying into the back footwell of my car (I do have him strapped in but his back is so long I have to have the strap so extended that his rear half can still go off the seat, he now has a complete cover that goes over the rear footwell). I got him back on the seat and he was in a bad way, when we got to the vets he was immediately taken to the operating theatre, blinds pulled, lights out and he was put on oxygen, this lasted for half an hour with my vet coming in and wetting towels and trying to cool him down whilst my job was to stand close to his head (he was lying on his side on the operating table) and talk calmly to him (easier said than done!!) I really thought I was going to loose him.

We then went into the garden, a chair was provided for me and we stayed in the shade for about an hour whilst he slowly calmed down. I walked him slowly in short sessions just to make sure he didn't seize up. His blood test was taken in the garden and the result was OK, it is rising but my vet said there was nothing I can do about it, it is because of his age but he said "the boy is doing good"

Last Saturday I took him to our Summer Fete where my vet runs a Fun Dog Show, I know it was really hot but I did check with my vet first when he did Merlin's annual booster on the Wednesday. Merlin has a Cool Suit from Equafleece and kept quite damp it really cools him down, I also took a Cool Mat, lots of water, flannels and a rechargeable fan that has no exposed blades. My vet had also provided huge umbrellas around the ring, big bowls of water everywhere and two water baths for the dogs, he also kept the judge short so that the dogs were not in the sun for very long.

It was great fun, Merlin won the first prize in the Golden Oldy class last year and he did it again this year! He also won two Special Rosettes. Three rosettes at 15 not bad!!

He had a wonderful time, he loved seeing all the other dogs and people.

Merlin originally came from Ireland and I collected in Dorset, he is the most wonderful dog so thank you Tess in Ireland and Lyn in Dorset for letting me have this beautiful, kind and amazing boy all those years ago.

If I could turn the clock back, even knowing all that we would go through, would I? In a heart beat!!!