Ross the blind terrier and Silky his ‘seeing’ friend

Ross the blind terrier and Silky his ‘seeing’ friend

Ross is a rescue dog. He was originally found wandering in Newbridge, Co Kildare one Christmas Eve when he was taken in by the PAWS animal sanctuary. After Christmas, the family visited the sanctuary to get a puppy, only to discover that they were too early for the post-Christmas glut of unwanted animals. While they were visiting, most of the rescue dogs were jumping up and down, bustling around the visitors, vying for attention. Ross was different. He was sitting back quietly on his own. He was already blind, due to serious eye disease, but at that stage, his eyes were still intact, so he looked fairly normal. The family felt sorry for him and took him home with them that day. As well as being blind, Ross had physical problems with his sightless eyes, and as time passed, they continued to deteriorate. First he developed cataracts, and then the cataracts dislocated inside each of his eyes, causing serious pain and discomfort. The family were faced with difficult choices: first one eye had to be surgically removed, and then, a year later, the other eye. They knew that he’d look odd with no eyes, but they also realised that he couldn’t see anyway. As far as Ross was concerned, his eyes had become a painful nuisance. Ever since the operation was done, several years ago, Ross has been completely pain free and comfortable. Ross is a calm, relaxed and friendly dog, and Caoimhe says that he’s “always happy”. Other dogs might whine when they’re on their own, or bark at other dogs, or get into trouble by chewing things...
Cassie a 4 year old Bichon Frise and her pup Max

Cassie a 4 year old Bichon Frise and her pup Max

Mary had originally planned to have Cassie spayed when she was young. She realised that there were already far too many pups in Ireland: thousands of unwanted dogs are euthanased every year in local authority dog pounds across the country. If every owner had their female dog spayed before her first season, the huge problem of stray dogs would be solved. As Cassie grew up, somehow it never seemed like quite the right time to get the operation done. When she met a lovely young male Bichon Frise, who belonged to a friend of the family, the idea of letting her have just one litter began to appeal. Mary had often thought of having two dogs, and she adored Cassie. Why not let her have just one litter, and then keep a pup for the long term? Mary made sure that she planned the pregnancy properly, having both Cassie and her male friend checked to make sure that they were fully healthy, without any inherited defects that could be passed on to the pups. Everything went according to plan, apart from one surprise: in the end, Cassie had just one pup. Mary had expected up to eight puppies, but she was delighted with the singleton: he was named Max, and she decided to keep him as a long term friend for Cassie. Cassie has turned out to be an excellent mother, dedicating herself to caring for Max, all day, every day, for the past month. He’s grown rapidly, and at just one month of age, he’s already over a quarter of her body weight. He’s been a hungry pup,...
Ruby is an 18 month old Miniature Dachshund

Ruby is an 18 month old Miniature Dachshund

James has owned Ruby since she was a pup, and she’s been a healthy little dog, with no need to visit the vet. A few weeks ago, she became quieter than normal, not wanting to go for walks with her usual enthusiasm. She normally enjoyed playing with toys, especially squeaky ones, but she lost interest in these. She was still eating, but with less gusto. James watched her closely, and it now seemed obvious that she had some type of toothache, just like a human. She began to press the side of her head along the ground, as if she was trying to rub a sore area. And, as if to make it very clear, she started lifting her paw to the left side of her face, whining. When James brought her in to see me, it was easy to make a diagnosis of her problem. When I lifted up her upper lip, I could see at once that she’d fractured one of her teeth. There was now an open channel up the middle of the broken tooth into the pain sensitive nerves of the tooth root. If the tooth had been a permanent, adult one, we might have discussed carrying out some type of root canal treatment, although this is rarely done in dogs. As it happened, there was a simpler answer: the broken tooth was a temporary, “baby” tooth. It was not meant to be present in an adult dog’s mouth anyway, and it had broken because it was weaker than the permanent teeth. Complete extraction of the damaged tooth was needed. Dogs – and cats –...
Fletcher is a 3 year old Green Iguana

Fletcher is a 3 year old Green Iguana

Alice came across Fletcher on an internet “for sale” website. He’d originally been bought for someone who couldn’t keep him, and he’d been sidelined out to a garage where he never saw humans. When he arrived in Alice’s home, he was frightened of people. He used to dash about the place, swishing his tail and snapping at the air in fear. Visitors were sometimes frightened of him, but he never bit or scratched anyone; he was just trying to run away. He was less nervous on a one-to-one basis, and Alice spent time with him every day, reassuring him and getting him used to being petted. He’s now been with her for nearly a year, and he’s become a calm, relaxed individual. He lives in a large, heated, wardrobe-sized vivarium in Alice’s living room. She’s done the research, and she’s made sure that he has an environment that’s just right for him, including a special ultra-violet light for him to bask beneath. He’s a big lizard, and even a large vivarium has limited space for movement, so Alice lets him out every day for exercise. He enjoys a swim in the morning, stretching out in the family bathtub, paddling around in foot-deep warm water. He can keep his head beneath the surface of the water for up to half an hour; the soaking helps to maintain the correct level of hydration in his body. Fletcher always has a healthy breakfast after his swim, and he’s a pure herbivore. He enjoys greenery, including leaves from broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, dandelions and carrots. He also eats fruit, such as apple and...
Ruby is a rose breasted Cockatoo

Ruby is a rose breasted Cockatoo

Pat originally bought Ruby as a present for his wife, but as time passed, the bird took a strong liking to himself. These days, Ruby’s definitely Pat’s bird. She talks to him, greeting him with “Hello” in the morning, and shrieking “Goodbye” when he gets his keys to head out to work. Ruby lives in a large cage, but she’s only in it for a small part of each day. She has a busy out-of-cage routine, and sometimes things can go a little wrong. The mornings are straightforward. She flies around the house, doing a circular circuit, from one room to another, swooping in one door and out of another. She’s worked out the geography of the house, and she’ll happily spend ten minutes exercising herself by whooshing around, dipping up and down as she goes. She reliably comes back to sit on Pat’s shoulder when he calls her, so it’s easy for him to get her back into her cage when it’s time to stop.. Ruby can be a mischievous bird, chewing shoes, furniture and anything else that she can get her beak around. Pat realised at an early stage that it’d be useful to find a safe way to burn up more of her energy. He decided to let her enjoy longer flights by taking her outside. He first took her out on a pleasant sunny day. He let her go out for a short flight, and called her back immediately. She seemed to enjoy this so much he began to allow her to have longer flights, heading off for a hundred yards or more to the...