Went to Rainbow Bridge 24 September 2010

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that I had to have Brodie put to sleep on 24th September.

Ange says "I collected Brodie from Potters Bar on 1 June 2008 and the words that came to me immediately were 'what a sad little dog'. The smell was so bad that on the drive home that my sister & I had to have the cold air vents open all the way home. First thing after his breakfast the next morning it was bath-time and it took some doing to turn his black skin back to the nice pink colour it should be.  I discovered at this point Brodie did not like water!

We were told that when he was taken for a walk Brodie could be stubborn, frequently stopping and refusing to move until he was good and ready and this proved to be true.  Brodie was also underweight and had very little muscle on his hind quarter.  Over a period of some weeks I managed to get him to put some weight on but, despite regular exercise, his muscle tone did not improve.  One day when talking to a fellow dog walker she suggested hydrotherapy as this had helped her dog following an operation on one of its legs.

I made contact with the local hydrotherapy pool and made an initial appointment which was for an hour so that Brodie could be assessed by a physio before he swam.  Needless to say, I was horrified when I was told that if Brodie was allowed in the water there was a very good chance that he would never walk again.  In fact this poor little dog wasn't stubborn at all he was in absolute agony!  He had severe spondylosis in two thirds of his spine and in the physio's opinion had been in severe paid for at least a year.

I suppose the alarm bells should have rung from the outset, he never sat down but stood for walks and then lay flat on his side on the floor at the earliest chance he got, neither did he curl up to sleep and grooming himself was a problem.  Unfortunately, he had not been at the fosterers for long enough to spot any of this and he had been already been neutered in his original home so he had slipped under the net of the usual veterinary checks.

Anyway, the next day we started physiotherapy with him, I exercised his legs and reduced his walks to a slow crawl of 5 minutes twice a day, he was also prescribed pain relief by his vet.  Brodie was re-assessed once every two weeks by the physio and many weeks later he had improved to the extent that he was allowed to swim for one minute. Although this was not something he enjoyed it helped him physically.  The Winter of 2008/09 halted his progress although he didn't deteriorate and he started to improve again come the Spring.  Over the long term he improved to the extent that he could swim for 9 minutes, not long really but a dramatic improvement from where he started.

Sadly the last Winter really took its toll on him, he never really bounced back even when the warmer weather arrived.  His walks reduced slowly over time until just recently they had only been for a couple of hundred yards at most. Because of the severeness of his spondylosis his back legs had also started to collapse underneath him and he was very wobbly, often leaning on the kitchen  cupboards for support when eating.

As if all of this was not enough for him to cope with, he also became senile and after trying lots of different things to try to help him it was on the advice of the vet that he was put to sleep, and I am crying as I write this.  He has left such a large whole in my life and a big space on the living room floor. He was a superb pet who will never ever be forgotten.

I needed to let you know about Brodie because stubborn could be something much more serious.  I hope you can use Brodie's story to alert others to what may otherwise remain a hidden health issue.

On a brighter note there is one incident which shows what a true ambassador he was for his species and breed:-

My friend & I run a rabbit & guinea pig rescue and, by way of fund-raising, we hold a stall at various fetes throughout the Summer. Of course, Brodie came too, content to sleep under the marquee raising his head occasionally to share a sandwich or the end of an ice cream cornet.

At the last fete we attended he was asleep as usual when I heard a man saying to a child he was holding, who turned out to be his granddaughter, 'Look at that dog sleeping'.  I said they could come and stroke him if they wanted, the man asked the little girl, who looked about 4 years of age, if she wanted to.  She shrank back into him and it was obvious that she was scared of dogs.  I reassured them both that Brodie wouldn't hurt them and knelt down on the floor next to him.  The man came forward and started to stroke Brodie encouraging the little girl to do the same.  After a minute or two she touched his back but would not touch his head.  Another girl arrived, aged about 7, who turned out to be the younger one's sister.  Seeing her younger sister stoking Brodie she knelt on the floor behind him and also started to stroke him.  I asked her if she would like to give him a treat but she quickly said "no".  I assured her he wouldn't hurt her and showed her how gentle he was when taking food.  Once she saw this, she wanted to give him something herself and ended up giving him 5 gravy bones.  She then asked her Grandad to take some photos of them both with Brodie as their mum would never believe what they were doing. Their Grandad took some pictures confirming to me that they were both scared of dogs and Brodie was the first they had ever touched.

He thanked me for allowing them to do this but the thanks should really go to Brodie, an outstanding, supreme example of his breed.

I hope that although Brodie never learned to play with toys and wasn't physically able to play with other dogs that he was happy whilst he was with me.  His ashes are now lying under his favourite shrub in my garden where he always lay to sunbathe."


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2009 Irish Retriever Rescue UK