The beginning of October 2013 was a very sad time for us when we lost our much-loved Shepherd, Buddy at the age of 8 years to CDRM. Our other, older Shepherd, Rosie seemed to enjoy being the only dog as she was getting all the fuss and attention, so we decided to leave the possibility of having another dog in the 'lap of the dogs', as I could hear the words "never again" ringing in my ears. BUT - a certain phone call from Gill at GSD 2000 the following week or so made us change our minds.
A dog called Fletch aged 4 had been taken in by the Charity about three months before. He hadn't been wanted by his owner and was in such a bad state of neglect when he came in that he was beginning to shut down. He was very thin and had been suffering from a terrible flea allergy which had left him with nasty sores on his skin and not much coat in places. It had taken a while but he was now doing very well in kennels - what he needed most of all was a good home....!
This picture shows a very sad and unhappy Fletch,
taken on the day he was signed into the Charity.
He would have been happy to hide at the back of his
kennel every day, but we weren't going to let that happen!
This picture was taken a few weeks later after he had
decided that perhaps we weren't all that bad and
in fact, life at the kennels was pretty good!
Offering Fletch a home all depended on whether Rosie would accept him and of course, we would have to like him too! We met up with Gill on Sunday 13th October in the pouring rain, which was when we found he absolutely loves getting wet!!
Initially, Fletch didn't take any notice of me at all, much preferring to be with Ian from the kennels, but it wasn't long before he began to take an interest and in due course was introduced to Rosie. She grumbled at this new, strange, wet dog - Fletch was quite respectful of her, even though he clearly wanted to play, but he decided that to go for a walk with me around the paddock, with Gill taking Rosie (still in the pouring rain), was much more interesting.
Still a little undecided, I went back to the car where my "rain-shy" husband was sitting, and asked him what he thought. He didn't hesitate to say that he really liked him and so that was it! Fletch came home with us, insisting on sitting on the back seat and with his head and front paws poking through the gap into the front of the car. It's one of the best decisions that my husband has ever made as Fletch has more than helped us come to terms with the loss of Buddy. He is one of the nicest dogs I have known and we can't thank GSD 2000 enough for letting us have him.
Fletch settled down brilliantly in our household, just as though he had always been there.
He loved life so much and was such a happy, fairly obedient dog.
It was approximately three months later that our world started to fall apart. We had a visitor that day and she had brought some treats for the dogs. Fletch did his party trick of sitting and giving five with his paw to get his treat, but as he took it I noticed a red lump on his gum just under his nose. A closer look showed that his top small teeth were actually inside the lump.
We saw the vet the following day. She wasn't our usual vet, but after examining Fletch she said she hadn't seen anything like it before and thought he must have been stung. We were given antibiotics and Metacam and told to come back in 48 hours if there was no difference. Two days later we went back and this time saw our usual vet.
As soon as he saw it he said it was an Epulis - a benign tumour. He wanted Fletch to come in the next day so he could have a closer look and take a biopsy including bloods and x-rays. A week later we were absolutely devastated to be told that the tests had revealed Osteosarcoma and that there was nothing that could be done, at least by him, but he did offer to refer us to another vet who specialised in this field. We didn't hesitate to accept and that same evening he rang to say that he had sent all the results of the biopsy, bloods and x-rays through to Mr Alasdair Hotston Moore in Bath, who felt he might be able to help.
A few days later, we arrived at a very busy surgery. We were seen straight away and told that Fletch would have a CT scan under anaesthesia and that if anything could be done, they would do it there and then. We were also told it was possible he would lose his upper jaw and teeth, but even worse, there was the greater possibility that he might lose his nose altogether.
We felt that this was just too much and, upsetting though it was, asked the question how long did he have if we didn't do anything?
We were told "about a month, as the Epulis was very aggressive and it would become ulcerated and he wouldn't be able to eat". Because we wanted to give him the best chance ever, we decided to go ahead with great trepidation and were told that they would ring us when they had news.
The wait was just awful - we were miles away from home and, fearing the worst, I wondered if perhaps the best thing to do would be to let him go there and then as he would be under anaesthetic and not know what was going on, to which Brian emphatically said "no way - we are definitely taking him home whatever the outcome".
An hour or so later, the vet rang to say that he felt he could successfully remove just about a quarter of Fletch's top gum and jaw and that he wouldn't lose his nose. The relief that he might have a chance was too much and I'm not ashamed to admit it but I was crying my eyes out in the middle of Sainsbury's at the time!
The rest of the day dragged until the vet rang to say he was pleased with how the op had gone and that he would see us the next day, after which we could take Fletch home.
Needless to say, Fletch was over the moon to see us but made it quite clear that all he wanted to do was go home! Fletch slept for most of the journey but as soon as he arrived and he and Rosie saw each other, they couldn't wait to run around wagging their tails in absolute delight.
Fletch hasn't looked back since. He has given us so much enjoyment and spends most of his time with his red (hopefully this time, indestructible) dumb-bell in his mouth which he takes everywhere with him in the hope that you will go and throw it for him - until the day came when he couldn't find it!
Fletch was beside himself and although we all searched high and low, it was nowhere to be seen. The only thing we could do was to give him the spare bright green one we had (just in case) which he hasn't let out of his sight since!!
I would just like to add that this is the first time I have ever had a rescue dog - we have always paid for a pedigree puppy in the past, but Fletch is one of the nicest dogs we have ever owned and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending to anyone thinking of having a rescue - go ahead and do it as they will forever be indebted to you and give you all the love and companionship you could ever wish for. We would definitely recommend taking out insurance as we did with Fletch - it didn't cover the full amount of his operation, but it did help go towards it.
THANK YOU GSD 2000 - FLETCHYBOY IS STILL ENJOYING LIFE TO THE FULL!