12 months ago we took a small male puppy Spinone (along
with the big Spins) to a Spinone party hosted by some splendid
folks, Babs and Mark Davies. It was a lovely day out and
all for a good cause…………
puppy of ours caused quite a stir and we had many questions
and lots of interest in him. You see this puppy had had
a really tough time in coming through birth and thereafter
development. He was an extremely large puppy when born and
what is known in the dog world as a “Swimmer”.
he was doomed to fail in life and without hiding behind
words and pretending these things don’t happen, most
swimmers are unlikely to survive post birth.
him in that litter pen with the others who were scampering
around and climbing over him was heartbreaking, but the
little guy refused to give in and managed to feed well and
get around, albeit very ungainly.
this little puppy had something, he did not give in, he
would not back down and he had oceans of courage where his
well formed and fit buddies didn’t.
for all those very nice people who have continued to ask
about that little puppy and “how’s he doing”
we have compiled this anecdote of his fight to be a “Normal”
pups name is Duncan
named him because he looked Duncan disorderly all the time!!!!
The Dearest One named him after Mr Goodhew – the Olympic
swimmer!!! (Very sensible)
My versions better………….!!
so, this is………Duncan’s Story
was born on the 29th May 2010 and was one of 3 puppies born
to that litter, the others were all fit and well.
was obvious from day one that Duncan was different, a swimmer.
Being only one of three he was a very big pup. But it became
apparent that there was a problem very early on.
what to do? We thought about it, talked about it and all
the time the Dearest One was always with him to assist with
feeds and clean up after him and of course to keep him moving.
It was a daily and very regular event almost to a routine.
Initially, the Dearest One never once backed away from the
challenge, of course we’re all human(ish) and she
got depressed and tired. Anyone would in those circumstances,
but despite Duncan’s odd looks and actions he was
nevertheless developing into a nice Spinone……it
looked intelligent, alert and moreover looking back on it
– he looked determined not to be outdone. This boy
was a fighter.
I have to say from the outset that the Dearest One did ALL
the investigations, questioning and ground work on ‘swimmers’
she took information, advice and knowledge from friends
in and out of the dog world, a number of vets and practiced
learned fellow Spinone owners and breeders.
Looking after him, the rest of the pack and feeding and
watering herself was of course an extensive period that
in most people would have worn them down to the point of
giving in, but in the introduction I said Duncan was a fighter
and he had an ally in that fight, because the Dearest One
was not going to back down from the fight either and if
Duncan was willing to fight then she would be with him all
the way on his journey.
two weeks of age both our local vet and a friend suggested
we start a physiotherapy regime to try and strengthen the
leg which was worst affected. This regime was to take place
approximately every two hours and in this we recruited the
help of the family, and for this we are eternally grateful
for the help of Jamie who although studying at University
gave up much of his time to assist with the therapy. This
included the night shift which was the requirement suggested
by the vets.
four weeks he could get up on his back legs and put pressure
on ONE front leg? Unfortunately, the front leg that was
good started to bow under the pressure. This complicated
the core issue of the original problem.
took him to a vet we knew in South Wales who examined him
and told us he could ‘possibly’ help get Duncan
up on his feet. The problem was that one of the bones in
his front leg had stopped growing.
this a throwback from him being born a swimmer? No one seems
a swimmer a hereditary condition? Again there are differing
views on this question because no one has a definitive answer……….from
a personal perspective we think it has a lot to do with
how the puppy forms/develops whilst in the mother.
one thing we do know and have been assured of is that the
bone in his front leg that had stopped growing was definitely
not a hereditary condition; it was pure bad luck, one of
this point, even for us this really was Duncan’s last
chance because if the vet amputated the bad leg, the remaining
good leg would not be strong enough for him to have a decent
standard of life.
at this point a decision had to be made, but Duncan was
a genuine fighter and after much deliberation we all agreed
to give the vet and Duncan the chance he deserved.
a visit to the vet in South Wales he had offered us or rather
Duncan a unique operation on the bad leg. For the vet it
was an operation that he was prepared to do with a BUT?
‘But’ was that at 9 weeks of age Duncan was
potentially too young to go through such a major operation
and further with Duncan so young there was a chance he may
not survive the anesthetic. We had a real dichotomy on our
OPERATION AND RECOVERY
gave permission for the vet to go ahead and conduct the
operation as described to us. He took Duncan and we went
off home with fingers crossed knowing that this was make
or break time so to speak
The operation to repair the bad leg was long and complicated
due to the muscle and bone that had to be completely repaired.
I will not go into the details as it is inappropriate but
the vet was nothing short of amazing in what he did.
the Dearest One she waited what must have felt like a lifetime
but eventually we got the call from the vet. Duncan had
survived the initial recovery from the anesthetic and the
could go and collect him but were told quite openly that
he was far from being out of the woods. We had to get him
on his feet as quickly as possible. Good old Duncan…………..ever
the fighter. It was if something inside of him had told
him he had a chance and he was not going to waste the opportunity
he had been given. Once at home he almost immediately started
to use it, very wibbly wobbly at first but you could clearly
see he was trying to put his weight on it.
With sensible instruction, careful watching and even more
careful where he could go and what we allowed him to do
he progressed. And progress he did……………..
DRIVE TO BE ‘NORMAL’
week later we were back with the vet for a checkup. He was
thrilled to see such a remarkable recovery and further the
development of the leg that had stopped growing. Duncan’s
leg was developing as normal and overall his recovery was
a testimony to the skill of the vet along with the belief
that something could be done and indeed was done.
important factor to Duncan’s recovery was his diet,
not enough and we might slow down his development, too much
and he could develop problems and in turn this could have
caused damage to all the good work that had been put in.
downside to this, is that today Duncan is not the fullest
of the Spinone dogs looking slim but not unhealthy. On the
other hand as I write this today he is easily as healthy
as the others and has no problems tearing around the beaches,
running for hours in the parks and woodland and still jumps
in the Land Rover at the end of a four or five hour run
way? We will never know……………………..
first ‘proper’ outing with many other dogs and
equally many other humanoids was the Spinone Party at Babs
and Marks in Pembrokeshire, where he spent the day being
cuddled and fussed over. It was amazing to see him like
that and equally mixing it with the big dogs when he wasn’t
signing autographs and being adored by his loving fans.
Duncan had reached cult status……..The fighter
had made it through and won not just the fight of his life
but he won the hearts and minds of those who met him that
that early recovery period Duncan has gone from strength
to strength and is now today just another of our Spinone’s.
Of course he will always be special, but there’s nothing
he can’t do, and no matter the challenge he will not
be beaten. Tough walks nowadays are a breeze to him……
reason we are telling the story of Duncan is to let people
know that no matter the adversity there is always hope,
and for Duncan we hope he never grows up. He really is a
lovely dog that is making the most of his life. If an animal
is fighting and you can sense and see he is trying to help
himself through his adversity then who are we to be judge
and jury on him?
he thinks he has a chance then why shouldn’t we give
him that chance?
get us wrong, we are all individuals and we have the ultimate
sanction. This was not in any way easy to follow through
and the decisions, the waiting, the questioning and the
ethics of it all (only the fittest survive) challenged us
all the way through.
it was Duncan’s fight, not ours. He gave us the opportunity
to see that he wanted to try. So we gave him that chance.
That was our decision……………….and
I have to say one of the best decisions we have ever made.
do not know what the future holds for Duncan, but had those
moments in the past not been challenged then he would not
have had a future. But today he lives life to the full,
he’s very fit, very healthy and long may it continue.
Duncan has given us much joy, a lot of laughs as well and
moreover he has touched the hearts of so many others who
know him, have met him and in turn we have seen the joy
on their faces as well.
his short life to date he has been through more than most
dogs go through in a lifetime and from our experience today………Duncan
intends to make it one hell of a life. The boy certainly
disorderly no more.
Respect and Gratitude
BIG, BIG THANKYOU to the following, who not only supported
us, but input in some way, encouraging us to continue and
show that from the teeth of adversity comes the smile of
Vet Man: We cannot express enough our appreciation and respect
for the skill and professionalism that was given over to
Duncan by this vet – his belief in our cause and his
support was invaluable as was the aftercare and follow up
to his ‘patient’
true professional throughout, and today we still visit his
surgery, we see him out with his family and their dogs in
the park and he still remains a Duncan fan. Duncan?? Just
runs past him………….!!!!!!
Steere: For the moral support, being on the end of the phone,
being there in support at the difficult moments and for
the treats you gave the supporting army of Spinone’s!!!
one Viv………..(I liked the beefy biscuit
The time taken out from study to concentrate on those legs.
I know you’re not studying physiotherapy but if all
Grimbles: For feeding and watering the Dearest One during
the early days. Took away some pressure of ensuring that
the nurse didn’t need nursing………..and
the munchies were nice
the Spinone Breeders and Dog Owners………Tracy,
Annette, Jan, Wendy, Sharon who remained in touch all the
way through and were all rooting for success and were always
there for a cheer up chat……trust me ladies…….that
took pressure off me!!!!!
and Mark Davies: Spinone owners and good eggs. No one would
ever know about Duncan had he not got his first publicity
from that splendid Spinone bash last year. We’ll be
back of course this year……..Don’t panic??
We have given Duncan his own pen this time for all those
screaming autograph hunters…….
of course – The Dearest One: On behalf of a very,
very grateful Duncan “Thank you”
Life is what you make it………you made mine
and for that no words can do justice, but “Thank you”