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Rescue pets: Matted mess to loved baby

SUE O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 28/04/2013

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I also rescued an Afghan hound, aged about four, we were told.

Shiva had been abused as a puppy, bought by a woman who was looking for a dog that made a statement. He was brought to Hamilton to be put down as he was in such an appalling state - he was a bag of bones, had been starved, his coat was a matted mess.

We acquired the dog through an animal rescue organisation, which we had gone to get a rabbit for my daughter.

I have always loved Afghan hounds and always wanted one. We took Shiva home with us as well as a rescued rabbit from a research centre.

Living with Shiva was not easy; he totally ignored us, he did not know what meat was as he had never ever been given any and his skin was a disaster. He just lay around all day inside and never wanted to go outside except at night when he liked to lie on the concrete - this seemed to be soothing for his skin.

After six months I came home from work one day and he rushed up to greet me - it was the first time he acknowledged I even existed, what an amazing break through at last.

When I took him back to the vets for neutering he could not believe it was the same dog, he had put weight on, we actually had hair growing where we never thought it would ever grow again, his skin though it was a problem all his life, was much improved.

We had had Shiva for four years when he became ill. Many tests were done but nothing would show up even though he was losing weight and would not eat. I must have spent a small fortune on tests for him and special foods - I could have bought four or five more Afghan hounds for what his vet bill cost us.

Finally, after six weeks, we had him x-rayed as he had started to cough. We got the terrible diagnosis that he was riddled with cancer and his bone scan showed his age to be about twelve to thirteen years old.

He was at the end of his life and I had to make the awful decision to have him euthanised. It broke my heart. I had only had him for four years and was not ready to say goodbye to him. My only consolation was that for his last four years of life he had been loved, cared for and deeply cherished.

In that four years never once did I ever hear him bark, he was my baby and even though since then I have had another Afghan hound, I have never forgotten my Shiva - such a gentle soul that did not deserve the living hell his first years had been.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. How could you not?


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