Brave Phoebe, our very own film star

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Viewpoint - Vanessa Brad­bury, Dun­man­way, West Cork

PHOEBE is a 10-yearold Golden Labrador. She was born with a de­formed leg and has had numer­ous op­er­a­tions to help her walk, which is dif­fi­cult for her at times.

Un­like most hu­mans, she has no ca­pac­ity for self-pity. Phoebe ap­pre­ci­ates a soft field or a beach to walk on but es­pe­cially loves to swim. In the wa­ter she is as good as any.

She used to be the greeter at the vet’s prac­tice, rush­ing out from be­hind the desk to slob­ber over any­one or any­thing she could reach. She was left there be­cause her orig­i­nal own­ers could not cope with her hand­i­cap.

When we first met her she had an ex­ter­nal fix­a­tor bolted to her mod­i­fied leg which had to be reg­u­larly ad­justed.

The the­ory was that this would elon­gate her bones. It was no doubt painful be­cause she was pre­scribed large doses of pain re­lief. Then she came to live with us. When Phoebe was in­tro­duced to the dog of the house, her fix­a­tor be­came fixed to him. Dur­ing their first meet­ing their en­thu­si­asm for play in the gar­den caused the nuts and bolts of it all to be­come caught in his col­lar. She was yelp­ing as he tried to free him­self while the hu­mans flapped and pan­icked in their at­tempts to help.

Then came her first walk with­out the con­trap­tion which saw her run­ning gi­ant cir­cles on a beach. The fix­a­tor and the painkillers are long gone but arthri­tis has de­vel­oped and is now here to stay. But she does love her walks — and they have to be hers for she will not move un­less she ap­proves of the route and will not re­turn if her sur­round­ings are too in­ter­est­ing. And when it ap­pears she has walked too far she may lay down and stare at you or then hob­ble along in some ex­ag­ger­ated way but then sprint af­ter a rab­bit or charge off and shoul­der barge another dog be­ing walked nearby.

A Labrador’s uni­verse is sub­ject to the first law of food and just like any other dog Phoebe loves din­ner time. But to add in­sult to her in­juries she de­vel­oped an allergy to meat!

Eat­ing meat makes her fur fall out in clumps, leav­ing patches of pink oily skin that emit a quite pu­trid smell. A mys­tery at first, it was di­ag­nosed af­ter blood tests. Food is now lim­ited to fish and fish bis­cuits.

But Phoebe is look­ing well. Have a look for your­self. She has re­cently com­pleted film­ing her part in a forth­com­ing movie called In Laws and Out­laws. When you see it you’ll see the bravest dog we know.

If you would like your pet fea­tured in this col­umn please send a story of 440 words and a pho­to­graph to snews@in­de­pen­dent.ie clearly la­belled MY PET

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