Best Pet Partner
Winner: Mr Tinks working on his laptop
Runner up: Hera, Izzy and Cali CCTV
Other pet partner entries
When we first got TiLi and I started agility training with her, my anxiety was still very bad. I would often miss training because I was simply too anxious to go, or turn up at Grande Daze and be unable to get out of the car.
It’s been a long, hard road between my mental health and TiLi’s stomach problems but being part of Team TiPot has been a huge part of my recovery.
TiLi is a sod! She’s trouble with a capital T. But she’s also smart (too smart!) and daft and loving. She snuggles me when I’m sad and her demanding, Princess attitude always makes me smile.
Anita and Peter have been so amazing, not only teaching me how to train TiLi but in building my own confidence too.
Runner up: Snowy
Snowy is a West-Highland-White Terrier (Westie), who was an impulse buy at a travelling puppy show. It was love at first sight! Little did my sister Celia and I realise, when we bought him, that Snowy was suffering from a rare congenital condition called “Lion’s Jaw”. The condition is a result of in-breeding amongst pedigree Westies but it only occurs where both parents have the recessive gene. Even then, not all the pups in a litter will have the condition. It was Snowy’s bad luck that he was the one in his litter, who inherited it.
Lion’s Jaw increases calcium production in the growing pup, causing heaviness around the jaw and teeth. This excess calcium build-up makes the jaw look unusually large, like a lion’s. With the condition, comes a lot of pain for the pup, high temperature, loss of appetite and the risk of the jaw either locking or breaking. In these worst case scenarios, the pup will starve to death because it can no longer use its jaws. There is (as yet) no none cure for the condition.
About every three weeks, poor little Snowy would start to whine with pain. He would get a high fever and loose his appetite. The local vet just thought it was some type of regularly occurring infection. However, it was experienced dog trainer, Anita Edwards of Grande Daze Animal Rescue Centre, who identified what was happening to our little darling. Anita said it was one of the worst case of Lion’s Jaw she had ever seen and suggested websites for us to look up, so that we knew exactly what we were up against.
One of our French acquaintances advised us to return Snowy to the breeders and demand either a refund or a replacement pup. Celia and I felt horrified! We knew what would happen to Snowy if we did that. He would be euthanized as “defective”. No! Getting Snowy put to sleep would be the very last resort, if the condition became too much for him to bear.
Thankfully, apart from the Lion’s Jaw, Snowy was a robust little dog. We agreed to persevere and do the nursing ourselves. At the same time, Celia had been hit with Bell’s Palsy and needed a lot of rest. So it was Celia, who spent the most time nursing little Snowy. We are both Reiki Healers and Snowy got lots of Reiki, specially prepared food and natural remedies. We had to be careful when playing with him because any knock to the jaw caused him great pain. It also meant that we cut him slack about Puppy Training classes, as he was already stressed.
The crisis point came when Snowy was nine months old. His jaw finally locked. He couldn’t drink properly and he couldn’t eat at all. The fever was very high. Snowy was in terrible pain. We debated whether to bring him to the vet to be put to sleep. Celia wanted to give it one more try. She gently and regularly massaged Snowy’s jaw and gradually got it to open, little by little. We made sure to get some liquids into him. He liked gravy the best. After a couple of days, the jaw began to work on its own. We breathed sighs of relief! As Celia pointed out, it was Snowy, who worked with her, to get his jaw working again. He did not want to leave us!
Two years on and Snowy is a happy, healthy young dog! A recent visitor remarked that he is rather bigger than normal-sized Westies but this is another legacy of the Lion’s Jaw syndrome. Extra calcium went on to his skeleton and he is a big-boned male. Since sterilisation, the weight tends to pile on him but he burns it off, racing around our large garden here in Bagnoles de l’Orne and playing with his seven furry friends, adopted from Grande Daze. And yes! He is everything they warn you about in a Westie male: bossy, noisy, and head-strong (never puppy-trained!) but he is also extremely affectionate and quick to protect his territory, including us humans!
Considering his traumatic start in life, I feel that Snowy is one of life’s Heroes, not just surviving but thriving. Despite all the pain and suffering, he has a sunny nature and is very lovable.