Gallery: Devoted dogs become blood brothers

THEY have always been pals - but now, after a life-saving operation, Charlie and Dougal are blood brothers.

Craig Robinson

THEY have always been pals - but now, after a life-saving operation, Charlie and Dougal are blood brothers.

Labrador Dougal was rushed to the vets last Saturday night after he collapsed following a walk - and it was discovered he had a tumour the size of a melon on his spleen.

Although the growth was removed he lost a lot of blood and it was feared he would not make it through another 24 hours.

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But Golden Retriever Charlie was on hand to help his friend and donate just under a pint of blood for his recovery.

It was a traumatic time for the dogs' owners, Caroline Briggs Wilson and Vanessa Stollery, who both live in Saxmundham.

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Although Dougal is now well on the road to recovery, it has highlighted a shortage of registered dog blood donors in Suffolk.

Mrs Briggs Wilson, who owns nine-year-old Dougal, said: “We went up to Sizewell which we often do and let the two dogs run. When we got back to Vanessa's house I was just talking to her when Dougal collapsed.

“He couldn't get up. Between us we managed to get him back to my place and I kept him warm because I thought maybe he'd overdone things a bit - it was a very cold day.

“By the evening however I knew something was seriously wrong and I phoned the vet around half past seven. When I took him along she had a look at him and knew he was very sick.”

Mrs Briggs Wilson returned home while the vet carried out more tests and received a phone call at midnight saying Dougal had a tumour the size of a small melon on his spleen.

“The vet called up and said they had to operate very quickly,” she said. “They took the tumour and the spleen away and patched him up but warned me he'd lost a lot of blood - we honestly didn't know if he would make it through the night.

“There was nothing more we could do at that stage - I just hoped and prayed that he would pull through. The vet phoned again the next evening and said he was still with us but he had lost a lot of blood.

“I asked if there was such a thing as a blood transfusion for a dog and she said yes - if I knew one that was of a similar size.

“I immediately thought of Charlie. They have been the best of friends for about three years - I phoned Vanessa and of course she agreed.”

The vet took just under a pint of blood from three year-old Charlie and after two nights of recuperation Dougal was allowed home on Tuesday.

“The two dogs are so sweet,” Mrs Briggs Wilson said. “When we took Charlie down to give blood he padded through to Dougal who was in his little cage and they greeted each other. It really gave Dougal a fillip.

“I definitely think Charlie knew that something was wrong - he knew that his friend was not right. He rushed up to him at the vets. They licked noses and both whined at each other. It was very interesting and emotional to watch.”

Mrs Briggs Wilson said Dougal was now well on the road to recovery and had been reunited with his best friend.

“Charlie came round this afternoon,” she said. “They were just so delighted to see each other. Dougal wasn't able to jump and prance around but Charlie was terribly good with him.

“It is a huge relief because it was very traumatic. The vet was fantastic - the whole team - I can't thank them enough. It was late at night and they did a great job.

“I would have done anything - moved heaven and earth - to make sure Dougal was okay. There's still a little way to go but he's not doing too badly - the vet is pleased with his progress.”

Miss Stollery said she did not have to think twice about helping Dougal because the two dogs are so close.

“Charlie stays with them when I am away and we often walk together,” she said. “I can't describe the scene adequately when he was brought into intensive care to see Dougal and greet him with a lick and gentle whine, and Dougal's joy at seeing us - there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

“It has highlighted an urgent need in the veterinary world. Dogs need blood donors too and the more people who know that it is a simple process and easy for a fit and healthy dog then the more they will hopefully come forward to offer their pets as donors.”

HELENE Baigent, general vet at Fromus Veterinary Practice in Saxmundham, treated Dougal during his operation.

Last night she urged dog owners to contact their local surgeries and register their pets as blood donors.

“Dougal would not have survived without Charlie's help,” she said. “Registering as a blood donor is definitely a good thing for people to do with their dogs.

“For a straight forward blood transfusion you don't have to worry about blood types - the dog just has to be of a similar size, over 25kgs, fit and healthy, under the age of eight and fully vaccinated.

“At the moment we only have one dog on our books and I would ask dog owners to get in touch with their local vets and register because it's very important.”

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