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Barney the puppyRead this heart warming story by our trainee nurse, Hayley about her beloved dog, Barney.

Barney is so much more to me than just a pet dog. Barney is my best friend, my walking buddy, my sport and fitness and my hobby. He's my alarm clock in the morning, the reason I smile when I'm sad and he makes me laugh at least 10 times a day! Barney is my absolute whole world and when I look at him with his continuously wagging tail, such a happy expression on his little face, I almost forget the sad, terrified little puppy he once was.

The first time I met Barney was 11th September 2010 in the isolation ward at Grove Lodge Vets. He was hiding at the very back corner of the kennel quivering with fear (see left). It isn't a surprise he wouldn't quite trust anyone after being shipped constantly from pillar to post for the first few weeks of his little life. He was originally (like so many other puppies) from a puppy farm in Ireland. He had been taken away from his mum far too early and subsequently had developed very severe kennel cough, which can be fatal to very old or young dogs. The place he had ended up had thought, since he was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, that he was in heart failure and so were considering putting him to sleep. Luckily he was rescued and signed to Worthing and District Animal Rescue Service (WADARS) who brought him to Grove Lodge Vets to be treated. I dread to think what would have happened to my little dog had it not been for the love, care, dedication and expertise of everyone at WADARS and all the staff at Grove Lodge Vets.

After nursing Barney at the Hospital at Grove Lodge Vets for the weekend I overheard Billy from WADARS saying he needed a fosterer for him who didn't already have a dog at home (as kennel cough is very contagious) and so (after somehow convincing my parents - especially my mum who is terrified of dogs - to agree!) I offered my services to help get him better. I took him home that evening and Billy was fantastic and brought round everything I might need to take care of a puppy! It was an incredibly slow recovery for Barney. He was put onto a course of antibiotics which had no effect and sometimes he would cough so much he would not eat or play. Three weeks later the vets decided to do a 'Bronchial Lavage' which involved him having an anaesthetic and flushing some saline into his lungs then taking the fluid back up so that it can be decided on the most appropriate antibiotics to use. A very big procedure for such a tiny puppy but WADARS agreed to go ahead and after recovering, Barney was put onto a new course of antibiotics. Over the next three weeks Barney finally began to show signs of improvement. It was now we started to think about vaccinations so he could see the outside world and meet other dogs!

It was lovely to see Barney finally being so happy and enjoying being a puppy! The first few times he went outside he was a little overwhelmed but we worked really hard getting him to meet lots of other dogs as he missed out so early on and it has really paid off - Barney just loves any other dog that he meets now days! Now that Barney was well on the way to recovery WADARS started to talk about getting him re-homed and it was then I realised I would find it incredibly hard to watch him go to a new home. I did not take the decision about keeping him lightly, I thought very long and hard about owning a dog as I believe any prospective dog owner should do. We all knew it was likely he would have problems being from a puppy farm and so I had to really consider if I had the money, time and dedication for a dog.

After many long discussions Barney was signed over to me. I had waited 21 years for a dog and my perfect little dog had finally found me! I always had the support and help of everyone at WADARS along the way and they still to this day make sure Barney and I are happy together! I know they would always be there for Barney if he ever needed them and recommend to anyone wanting to re-home a pet to go to WADARS; they do the most fantastic job and support you continuously throughout the re-homing process!

Barney has come such a long way but inevitably, as we knew he would, due to the bad breeding on puppy farms he has other problems too. He has an overshot jaw which means we have to make sure his lower canines don't start to push into his hard palate. He has an umbilical hernia which will need to be operated on if it becomes any bigger. He has a luxating patella which means his knee pops into an abnormal position sometimes and this will need to be operated on at the end of the year. The biggest of Barney's problems was diagnosed on an MRI scan in January; he has an instability of the first two vertebrae on his spine which means it can put pressure onto his spinal cord and cause him a great deal of pain. With a few life adaptations we have helped Barney to live with this and hope he will never need the risky surgery to fix it completely. I feel so lucky to be able to give Barney the care he deserves and have people around me at Grove Lodge Vets with the best knowledge and advice we could ask for.

Barney has always been a very clever little dog and picks things up incredibly quickly; he gained his puppy Good Citizen Scheme award first time and loved it! So when he reached a year old I decided to see if he enjoyed an agility class, unaware of how addicted we were to become! To my delight he not only seemed like a complete natural but absolutely LOVED it!!

As time went on I realised we were quite the team and so started to enter competitions after only training for 5 months. He won all three classes at his first show and came 2nd overall at the TraVal Winter Tournament. He recently got a 2nd place at his first outdoor Kennel Club show and has earned enough points to compete in the 'Starters Cup' at the International Agility Festival in August... I'm running out of space for trophies and rosettes already!

I love seeing how much he enjoys agility, he puts his whole heart and soul into every single run he does and wags his tail the whole way around! It's a social event for both of us and keeps us both fit and healthy. I would recommend agility to all dog owners - we are completely hooked and spend every spare moment we have training and most weekends competing!

Barney has completely turned my life around for the better - I cannot imagine my life
without him! I will never be able to say thank you enough to everyone at the
Worthing and District Animal  Rescue Service and Grove Lodge Vets for helping
me to have the dog I have always wanted.