If ever there was an example that illustrated the incredible resilience of man’s best friend, then it’s on show in abundance with Sweep the Shih Tzu from Dungiven.
The pooch has survived the odds after battling cancer and losing a leg through a traffic accident.
Some people may have given up, but dedicated dog owners Anne and Eamon McCloskey said there was no way they could throw in the towel when it came to Sweep.
“Sweep was bought for my birthday 10 years ago,” says Anne. “We’d had a Springer Spaniel called Rocky. We had him 11 years and it broke our hearts when he died. Then the wains brought home this wee bundle of fluff and we called him Sweep. He’s not ruined. Spoiled would be a better word!”
Sweep had a massive operation in 2014 after it was discovered he had cancer in his jaw.
“We thought that was the end of him,” said Anne, explaining Ciaran Montague, Head Veterinary Surgeon at All Creatures Veterinary Health Centre in Limavady, operated on Sweep, removing half his jaw, “and we never looked back”.
Sweep was just sitting there with the wee back leg hanging off. I was distraught.Anne McCloskey.
Eamon said Sweep adapted well after the surgery, other than some splashing when drinking.
However, last October, Sweep darted out onto the road, crashing into a car.
“Usually he is so good and knows his boundary, where he can go, because of his electric collar, but he didnt have it on and he just got away,” said Anne. “I went out after him and the window cleaner said ‘I think the dog has been hit’.
“Sweep was just sitting there with the wee back leg hanging off. I was distraught. I thought it was the end of him.”
After surviving cancer, Anne said: “I allowed to myself I had watched him come through that I wasn’t going to let him be killed on the road.”
The couple went back to All Creatures where Sweep went through surgery to remove the left hind leg.
Through the accident, Sweep temporarily lost his eyesight, but that has since returned and Sweep is doing well.
Sweep is still the same playful dog who obeys commands, and loves attention in plentiful measures.
“He can motor up and down the garden rightly,” said Eamon.
The couple can’t thank the team at All Creatures enough.
During the last two years Sweep has received laser treatment, completed hydro therapy sessions and has been nursed back to health during a three-week stay at animal hospital following the cancer surgery, a bad infection and his recovery from the accident.
“Sweep is a walking miracle,” said Anne. “They saved his life here. Everybody has been unreal.”
All Creatures veterinary surgeon, Louise O’Hare, said Sweep is a remarkable dog, so much so he was crowned Pet Survivor of the Year 2015 by the practice.
“There are some dogs that get you more than others,” she said. “Even when the going was tough, Anne and Eamon never thought about giving up. They gave him every chance. He’s very lucky.”