Cumbria Canine Hydrotherapy Centre

Improving & Enhancing your dog's Physical and Mental Well-being


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Home      Milly's Story

Milly's Story:

Early in 2008 Milly (who was called Willow then) was living in the Liverpool area and was the victim of a road traffic accident and suffered a spinal fracture.  She underwent surgery to fix a metal plate across her spine to strengthen and support it. However, she would have to learn to walk again and would need lots of physiotherapy, heat massage etc to contemplate getting back her weight bearing and motion. She spent two months in hospital and showed signs of improvement, but unfortunately her owners were unable to give her the time to rehabilitate her: with regret they asked to have her put to sleep.
In the hospital, Milly had fought hard to overcome the trauma and effects of major surgery. Despite it all she had remained very loving, affectionate and a joy to know. So much so that the nurses treating her asked to have her signed over to them and clubbed together to buy her a special trolley. A temporary foster home was found for her and Labrador Rescue North West was approached for help. They were brilliant and although a LabX they funded Milly's hydrotherapy sessions and appealed for a home for her on their web site: http://www.homealabrador.net.
One Saturday we were putting the pool to bed after a morning session when veterinary nurse, and before Louise, who worked here then and having seen an appeal on a vet nurse site, suddenly announced that a chocolate labrador bitch was disabled and in need of a forever home. I look back and wonder if it was because I had also suffered multiple fractures of the spine and that prompted me to say that I'd have her, but I don't think we knew specific details then. Whatever, I decided immediately that Milly should come here and so she did.
In the summer of 2010, I happened to be in contact with Labrador Rescue and mentioned I had Milly - aka Willow the Trolley Dog -  and Glenys asked for an update for their site. The following is a copy of the update sent.

Dear Glenys,

As promised here is an update on Milly:

Milly arrived at her forever home in Cumbria in May 2008 and was a pitiful little thing, but was given a warm welcome by her new Labrador family, who were an absolute credit to their breed. One of the yellows was already called Willow so chocolate Willow became Milly.

This is the home of Cumbria Canine Hydrotherapy Centre so it was easy for Milly to swim at least 5 times a week and many thanks must go to the veterinary nurse, Louise, who was working here at the time and who played endless games in the pool with the favourite (but rather worse for wear) toy that Milly brought with her. Regular swimming gave Mills an outlet for her energy and the chance to move freely, whilst her body recovered. She was always very excited!

When Milly first came all she could do was to drag her hind legs with her. If she got into one of the others' beds which had a rim she could not get herself out and of course her feet needed protection. All sorts of things were devised to protect her - not least old t-shirts through which her collar was threaded and on which her hind legs rested as she bombed around on the grass like a demented darlek, interacting with the others and never afraid to speak her mind. She was also pretty incontinent and cost a fortune in nappies and kitchen roll: iIn the end the carpet had to go and we are now tiled throughout, so when the inevitable happens we get out the 'Milly rags' which are set to one side with 'Milly bedding' and then put in a 'Milly wash'. We also have 'Milly feet'. - We needed something to protect her feet when she dragged them, but also something that was pliable enough to allow her to stand and that would stay on whilst being dragged along at 100 mph: ( I exaggerate but Milly really can move!) The solution was toddlers' socks from charity shops, which are taped on everytime she goes any distance and so 'putting your feet on' and 'taking your feet off' have become part of our vocabulary - and believe you me she is a bright little dog and understands a lot. She also talks a lot, but I'm not as bright as she is so I can't tell you what she says!!

It was about a year before Milly was really able to stand unaided and yes I had a tear and text the news to her foster mum Karen. Sadly we are no longer in contact, but I know she would be very proud of her. It was two years before Milly took her first real independent steps: another sweet memory. She still has what I call 'deck-chair legs' where they cross over but now she has control over them. She can also run and bunny hop around easily, although when she wants to go really quickly she reverts to dragging, so there are often calls of ''Milly. Up! Up!'' (The neighbours now understand what this means!)

Every day we go down the paddock and chase tennis balls. This is just too exciting for words and we can barely wait to have our 'feet' put on. Milly bounces down the paddock on two legs, dragging her hind legs in all sorts of funny positions. Once she has the ball she will walk proudly back to me on all four. She is also a superb catcher and has great eye-mouth coordination, especially for biscuits. It is at such times that she almost manages to wag her tail: there is movement there but it's far from a true wag. However, Milly makes up for it with licks. Those of you who first helped her will no doubt remember with affection what a licky little lady she was. She also has an endearing way of sticking her head between your knees from behind - just to remind you she's there.

Expeditions in the trolley are ranked up there with tennis balls and food. For the first year or so I kept her on a lead, but now she runs freely with the others. I just couldn't keep up with her! And her favourite place to go . . . . . . the beach. Little by little she has overcome her car-sickness. Our first visit to the vet was a very smelly affair as Mills was sick and had to have a very smelly nappy change, but any accident now is more likely due to excitement than fear. The beach is less than 10 miles away and it is so good to see her pounding away with her hind legs on the firm sand. If the tide is out she can run freely, but if it is on the way out and there are waves we keep her on a long lead as her enthusiasm is unbridled and she could topple over. As you will see from the pictures Milly is in her element.

I don't deny that Milly has also been, and will no doubt continue to be, hard work, but, as someone said to me the other day, ''She's some dog!'' And she is! She is also very much part of the family now and the others put up with her bossy little ways and rub along brilliantly. She is very loving and much loved and enjoys life. For one who was so very nearly put to sleep it is certainly a happy ending. I guess you could say she has found her forever home!!

With very best wishes,
Jan (Waite)
and xx from Milly

Holme Dale, Low Scales, Aspatria, Wigton, CA7 3NE   -   E-mail:jan.waite@caninehydro.co.uk   -   Tel: 016973 20736