A remarkable Rhodesian Ridgeback dog continues to amaze vets by living a full and happy life almost three years after cancer led to her having one of her legs amputated.

Concerned owners Michelle and Martin Short consulted vets after then 10-year-old Tia developed a limp in June 2019.

When an X-ray revealed cancer in her front right leg, Tia was referred to Linnaeus-owned Dick White Referrals (DWR) in Six Mile Bottom for further investigations.

Resident Joy Fenner and consultant surgeon Daniela Murgia carried out a CT scan, which confirmed no obvious signs of spread of the cancer and so Tia’s owners were offered either palliative care or amputation of the limb.

Palliative care would have only lasted a matter of a few weeks due to how aggressive the cancer was and, after agonising over the decision, the couple decided to go ahead with the operation. Joy and Daniella operated together to remove the limb and three years later, Tia is well adjusted to life on three legs and enjoys regular walks with her owners.

Michelle said: “We went through three weeks of a dilemma wondering what to do. A friend had a dog with three legs who had adjusted well to the change so we thought, let’s give it a try.”

Michelle and Martin, from St Ives in Cambridgeshire, were referred to DWR to carry out the operation after a recommendation from their friend whose dog was treated there in similar circumstances.

Michelle said: “The team at DWR gave us the reassurance that the prognosis following the operation was irrespective of age, which was important for us to know because Tia was around 10-years-old at the time.

“We didn’t know if the cancer had already spread further but we decided to go for it with the operation and see.”

Following the surgery, Tia began a 12-week course of intravenous chemotherapy. Whatever the outcome of her treatment, Michelle and Martin wanted to give Tia one last trip abroad to their villa in the Spanish resort of Costa Calida, south of Alicante, where they take their dogs each year.

Through the DWR network, the couple contacted a veterinary specialist in Spain and Joy made the referral, sending Tia’s reports and CT scan to the specialist in Spain. Tia’s treatment continued, both at home at DWR and abroad, visiting the vet in Spain for check-ups and prescriptions.

Vets at DWR continued to carry out CT scans to check for secondary sarcomas and, unfortunately, a year later, two small secondary sarcomas were found on Tia’s lungs.

She started on a course of oral chemotherapy, overseen by the DWR team, which successfully shrunk them. She will now continue on the oral chemotherapy for life, visiting the team at DWR every six weeks for the necessary checks to continue on the medication course.

Michelle said: “Tia adapted really quickly to life on three legs. She is now over 12 years old and she goes for a walk three or four times a week, for a mile each time. As long as she is still the first to the food bowl and enjoys a family dog walk then she’s happy.

“She had her third ‘last trip’ to Spain last August and we’re currently organising another for this summer.”

Head of oncology at DWR, Sara Verganti, and oncology resident Angelo Capasso continue to be amazed by Tia’s progress.

Angelo said: “Our advice to the family was to think of Tia rather than being an unwell dog, as a well dog who takes tablets. She really is a miracle dog.

“This July marks three years as an amputee for Tia and the prognosis for her following amputation was six to 18 months - so she continues to really defy expectations.”

Around the time when Tia was originally diagnosed, Michelle and Martin added Monte, a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, to their pack, which is completed by Pedro - a Basset Fauve de Bretagne breed stray dog who they adopted after he followed Martin home from a walk in Spain.

Dick White Referrals offers specialist-led care in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, diagnostic pathology, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, interventional radiology, neurology and neurosurgery, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, physiotherapy and soft tissue surgery.

For more information, visit www.dickwhitereferrals.com or search for Dick White Referrals on social media.

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