Thursday, 15 April 2021

Meet Stark, the ‘miracle pup’

Meet Stark, the ‘miracle pup’

A VET who saved the life of a puppy has launched an appeal to pay for treatment that will give him a better quality of life.

Stark was given the slimmest chance of survival when he was brought into Henley Vets unconscious two years ago.

The Welsh springer spaniel, who was only six days old, weighed just 230g and had an abscess on his front left leg that was septic.

His owners suggested putting him to sleep but Georgie Rosendaal, 29, who works at the surgery in Reading Road, offered to take him home and nurse him.

She and her fiancée Cat Williams, 30, a conservation worker, then spent weeks giving Stark round-the-clock care which saved his life.

It also helped save his leg from amputation and Stark has grown up into a healthy dog who loves playing and going for walks.

However, he is still extremely arthritic in the leg joint and lame. He is on anti-inflammatory drugs and joint supplements and needs regular pain relief.

Now Miss Rosendaal, who has nicknamed Stark “the Miracle Pup”, has launched an appeal to raise thousands of pounds to pay for more treatment, saying he deserves many more years of happiness and comfort.

She said: “It is gut-wrenching to see him in pain knowing there are options that could be explored if only we had the means. Stark just loves life and being a happy boy.”

It was in December 2018 that a breeder brought Stark, then called Little Blue, into the practice, together with his mother and brother.

Miss Rosendaal said: “There were five in the litter, all boys, and three of them had died overnight.

“It turned out the mum had a mammary infection and this had been passed on to the babies. The breeder was distraught and had done everything to help him.

“His brother was doing okay but Stark was unconscious, very poorly and had a swollen left elbow. He needed intensive treatment if he was going to live.

“His chances of survival, even with intensive treatment, were less than one per cent.

“His temperature wouldn’t register, he had low blood sugar and his weight was only 230g — 60g lower than his birth weight. His left elbow was painful and swollen due to the infection in the joint.”

The vets warmed up the poorly pup and gave him glucose injections but after a few hours he had still not shown any signs of improvement.

Miss Rosendaal recalled: “The breeder thought the kindest thing was to put him to sleep. It would have cost thousands for the intensive care he needed, so I said, ‘that’s fine, I’ll go down and put him to sleep’.

“Then the nurses told me, ‘he has taken a bit of milk, Georgie, you can’t do it. Maybe we should give him a chance’.

“I thought, ‘maybe we should’. I think I was looking for any excuse not to put him to sleep.”

The owner agreed that as the dog’s chances were not good, they would sign him over to Henley Vets and the practice agreed she could look after him and it would cover the cost of the drugs he needed.

Miss Rosendaal said: “It took us three-and-a-half weeks to get him back to his birth weight.

“Cat and I were up all times of the night giving him hot water bottles and glucose injections. Initially, it was every hour or two feeding him, changing him and checking his temperature.

“We were both working full-time through this whole thing — it was just adrenaline. Stark was on antibiotics until he was six weeks old. It was when he was around four or five weeks old that we knew he was going to make it. He was starting to gain weight and eat reliably. It was all looking up.”

She had the dog signed over to her and named him Stark because of a marking on the back of his head that looked like the wolf emblem of the House of Stark in Game of Thrones.

“When his chances started to improve we thought we needed to take responsibility,” said Miss Rosendaal.

“We hadn’t planned on getting a dog until we retired. We always say that he’s our accidental baby!”

Still fearing that Stark may need to have his leg amputated, the couple took him to see an orthopedic specialist who told them to let Stark grow and keep an eye on his leg.

Miss Rosendaal said: “Once you take it off, you can’t put it back on and it would put a lot of pressure on his other front leg.

“If he became arthritic in his right leg due to overcompensation, we really would be looking at the end.

“Until recently he has been coping really well, but he has started to become more lame after exercise.”

The couple feel the time has come for Stark to undergo more advanced treatment but this is costly and although they have insured him, the policy does not cover anything related to his original infection.

The treatment options include advanced imaging/CT scanning to assess the damage, which would cost £1,500 to £2,000, stem cell therapy injections into the joint (£1,000-plus), platelet rich plasma injections into the joint (£500 to £1,000 each per jab), arthrodesis/fusion of the joint (£2,000 to £2,500), or elbow replacement (£8,000 to £10,000).

Amputating the leg — the last resort — would cost £1,000 to £2,000.

Miss Rosendaal said: “We want to do right by him. If it came to it, we would amputate his leg but feel it would shorten his life so we want to try other things.

“Stark is just an absolute joy. He loves people, he loves dogs and there’s not a mean bone in his body.

“If I’m walking down the street with him and someone even makes eye contact with him, his whole body starts to wiggle.

“He seems so happy to be alive. You can almost see it. We just feel so lucky and grateful that he managed to live. He clearly had the fighting spirit in him to be able to make it.”

To follow Stark’s story, search Facebook for “Stark the Miracle Pup”.

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