I met Margo & Albert at the Spring Mini Shoots (on the weekend that we had heavy snow!) and although I knew a little of their background, I had no idea of the extent of what they had been through, and how far they had come. Watching them, you never would have guessed, their zest for life was infectious! Here's their full story of their incredible journey from their human.
Albert was bought for me by my husband Neil-a combined Wedding Anniversary, Xmas and Birthday gift (they are all in December and beginning of January - poor man!!)
I'd lost the canine love of my life-Alfie a Affenpinscher and had always wanted a black pug-Pugs are such sturdy little dogs with HUGE personalities and are often called the canine clowns!
Little did I know how sturdy this breed was...........
About 3 years ago Albert was diagnosed with a condition that sadly pugs do suffer from called Pigmentary Keratitis-this is where pigment forms in the eye, normally starting at the outer part but can eventually cover the Cornea leading to blindness.
Luckily at the moment Alberts is still on the outer part of the cornea but he has hardly any peripheral vision left and mostly has blurred vision-this has lead me to having a dog bandana made stating Partially Sighted Pug Coming Through!- (thank you House Of Henry) for him to wear whilst out walking with me.
To manage this condition Albert has an eye medication daily called Optimmune-(anyone that knows the price of eye meds for dogs will know this is probably the most expensive)
He is such a good boy for this as from a pup I taught him the word Eye so he knows that he has to sit still for me to look in his eyes etc-something that most pug owners I think should do as this cute bulgy eyed breed will no doubt at some point get an eye injury.
But that wasn't it for Albert, he wanted to test the veterinary world a bit more.....
About 8 months ago I noticed a lump on Alberts left hind leg, probably the size of a small apricot, it was very odd as it kept changing size, almost as though it was going back under the skin.
Now before I started my own dog walking business I had worked in a veterinary surgery for 25 years and it had the classic appearance of a lipoma (fatty lump), so I thought I would wait a couple of weeks and see how it went.
But then another lump appeared on his breast bone-this one was smaller and harder, but as it came up so quickly I decided a trip to my vets was needed.
We took a needle sample of the lumps to which my vets were of the same opinion a fatty lump and sent them off for analysis-a few days later to my utter shock my best friend called me-(she's the head nurse at my vets) and said "Sorry Rach, Alberts results have come back as Mast Cell tumours!"
I was completely shocked but my head went into overdrive and I knew that we had to grade the tumours and wanted to sort this out ASAP.
I was referred to NDSR in Bletchingley to see Gerry Polton a top oncologist and it was decided that we would need to remove both of them but a scan had to be done first to make sure it hadn't spread.
Luckily it hadn't but the tumours were already middle grade(3) so Gerry suggested removal of both tumours along with the 2 lymph nodes next to them to reduce the risk of spread-this is a very new procedure but I trusted Gerry and knew it had to be done.
3 days later I had my boy home, although there were 2 very extensive scars we got the news that all the cancer had been removed.
Recovery went very well, I had a tshirt suit made for him by Equafleece as brachycephalic breeds like pugs do not cope well with The Cone of Shame-aka plastic elizabethan collars and his stitches were removed 14 days later.
And In typical Pug fashion I get the look from Albert now which suggests "What was all the fuss about"
What can I say my gorgeous brave girl.......
So after falling in love with the Pug breed I decided I needed another one (most dog owners will understand this feeling) and the search for a fawn one went underway.
I did what I spent most of my veterinary career telling people not to do and bought Margo from Preloved online.
Her picture was gorgeous and my heart told me I had to have her-so I called her owner and arranged to meet the following weekend.
Margo was sooooo excited to see us and her owner was selling her at the age of 5 months as didn't really have time for her and she spent most of her day in a crate so she came home there and then.
Within 24 hours of her being home it was clear to see she had SPECIAL FEET-we called them flippers, now at first this didn't seem to bother her and I wanted to see if they would change as she was still a puppy.
But by 10 months old Margo was becoming lame after 30 minutes of walking so after a vet visit we were referred to Fitzpatrick Referrals-yes the Supervet!
During the first visit and after tests and scans we were told she would need both her wrist joints fused with metal plates-it was either go through with surgery or walk her 10 mins a day and run the risk of her possibly breaking the joints if she jumped off anything.
So surgery it was ........
Each leg was a 6-8 week recovery with complete crate restriction and on lead only for toilet purposes and even if she was sitting with us on the sofa we had to hold her lead and yes I even slept with her holding it too.
I took her to work with me every day as when I came home to walk my other 2 dogs she was so distressed in the crate that if I left her I thought she would damage her legs so I invested in a dog papoose and carried her in this -she loved this as she still got to see all her friends at the park and have a good sniff of the air.
Margo was finally signed off a year ago from Fitzpatricks-weve had 3 physio sessions since as whilst having scans they found she has arthritis in her toes too so we needed to teach her to walk properly again.
She still has a slight limp on hard ground but she is back to being My Mad Margo and running and playing at the park with all her pals.
So what can I say... I have 2 L'Oreal Pugs-yes because they are worth it.
So if anyone out there has been told their fur baby needs surgery I know it may seem daunting at the time and like there is a long road ahead but believe me the destination is definitely worth it.xx
A I think you will agree, these two are pretty incredible pooches! Kerry x
Surrey, Sussex & Hampshire professional dog photographer.