Aldershot owner says ‘kind and gentle’ dog will never be cured after pancreatitis diagnosis
It’s been a hell of a fortnight for the owners of a much-loved border collie in Hampshire. Harley, a ‘sweet and kind’ dog, was diagnosed with pancreatitis and vets told his distraught owners the disease would only get worse.
Melaney and Christopher Callaghan, from Aldershot, adopted Harley in April 2016 when she was just four months old. Melaney said: “Harley is the sweetest, most wonderful dog and loves to play. Everyone loves her and she likes to say hello to every dog and human she meets.”
Before being spayed, Harley gave birth to a litter of six puppies who all went to family or friends. Melaney continued, “Everyone adores these puppies, and they rule everyone’s life because they’re so sweet and laid back that you want to give them all the attention.”
READ MORE: Fleet deemed ‘very boring and indescribable’ in Helen Bauer’s BBC comedy Three Small Doses
When she was only two years old, Harley had her first epileptic fit. “I didn’t even know dogs could have epilepsy,” admitted Melaney, an administrator. “His first seizure was so scary because we had no idea what was going on.”
On December 31, 2019, Harley suffered from epileptic seizures. Melaney explained: “It was the worst New Year’s Eve ever, she adjusted all hours of the night, that’s when the emergency vets put her on meds. .
“She’s been on medication since then, we got it under control eventually and she was adjusting once a month which apparently is pretty good. Her last attack was last August, we were out during the day and she had very happy and excited, but then she came home and adjusted.”
On March 14 she started to get sick and the next day the vet believed it was the result of a virus. However, three days later she was rushed to Alton Animal Hospital after her stomach swelled to the point that she looked pregnant.
A number of blood tests, ultrasounds and CT scans later showed that Harley’s pancreas was swollen and causing problems with other organs. Doctors diagnosed him with suspected pancreatitis, which dogs can never fully recover from.
Melaney continued: “On Tuesday (March 22) they decided we could go and visit her, which was fantastic, but deep down inside I’m like ‘are we allowed to visit her just because she won’t come home? You always think the worst, but luckily it wasn’t.”
Despite complications with an infected feeding tube, Harley was allowed to go home the next day, ensuring that Melaney could keep her wound clean and give her all the medicine. She is now on the mend, but her owners have been warned it will only get worse if she suffers another attack of pancreatitis again.
Melany said: “Dogs never recover from pancreatitis, you can’t take a pill once a day to stop it happening, it’s one of those things that can happen. Whenever she has it, it damages the pancreas which never improves. .
“I’ve been in pieces for two weeks, I’ve cried and I don’t have kids, so these are my fur babies, they mean the world to me and my husband. One of us is with her 24 /7, we can’t go out for a meal because Harley will be too excited by being around people who could then cause a meltdown.
“But I would never want it any other way, they are our life. Unfortunately having a sick dog that has something that can never get better is so difficult. She will stretch her legs, but because that she stretches when she goes, we always have this panic, it’s just awful.”
Now the family is facing hefty vet bills after Harley’s stay in the animal hospital. When she was released, the family received a bill for a total of £7,100, and that doesn’t even include future tests once Harley has fully recovered to check her medication levels.
The insurance policy currently covers all of Harley’s epilepsy medications and has been “brilliant” for the past six years. Melaney said: “They would pay me more money in a few months than I would give them in a year, but now I’m afraid the premium will skyrocket or they won’t even cover it.”
Melaney’s sister, Lynsey Walker, set up a GoFundMe to help the family with vet bills that were thousands of pounds more than insurance would cover. So far more than £600 has been donated to the family, which Melaney said she did not expect.
She continued: “I hate to ask but Lynsey arranged it for me because she was so worried. It means so much and I can’t say how awesome it is, every little bit helps. I feel so guilty of asking strangers to help because she’s my baby and I should take care of her.
“But we had to borrow money, when something like that happens you don’t expect it. I’m lucky that I’ve never had to deal with this kind of thing before.
“Sometimes we think ‘why her?’ because she’s such a beautiful dog, but I’d go over that with her again, I’d stress and worry but I’d do it because she’s my baby.”
The GoFundMe to raise money for Harley’s treatment is available online and can be found here.
Find out how you can get more HampshireLive news straight to your inbox HERE .