By Danielle Kutchel
When Lauren Kiernan first met her staffy, Cas, at RSPCA Bendigo in 2011, it was love at first sight.
The pup rolled over in the pen for tummy rubs and looked beseechingly up at Ms Kiernan, begging for a home.
“She’s barely left my side since,” Ms Kiernan said.
Their bond is made even stronger by the fact that Cas acts as a support dog to Ms Kiernan, who suffers from Chiari Malformation, a disability which has seen her undertake numerous brain surgeries.
Through it all, the patient doggo has been there, performing pressure therapy and acting as an emotional rock for her owner during hours of pain and recovery.
So when Cas started to show signs of injury, Ms Kiernan was determined to repay the favour.
“When she started to limp and slow down a fair bit I knew something was wrong.
“I took her to the vet and they said she could have fully ruptured the cruciate ligament in her back leg.
“They did scans and tests, came back and said ‘sorry, it’s the news you didn’t want to hear’,” she explained.
“It was devastating.”
The options were laid on the table, including Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy surgery, a procedure used to treat ligament rupture in the knee joints of dogs.
But with Mr Kiernan on a disability pension, it was financially out of reach.
That’s where the Veterinary Referral Hospital (VRH) in Dandenong came in.
VRH offered to help cover the cost of the surgery, with Cas treated by Victoria’s only orthopaedic specialist, Dr Alasdair Renwick.
Ms Kiernan said she was nervous as Cas went in for her treatment.
“When you have a member of your family going through something like this, you want to know she’s taken care of completely.
“I was a jittery mess that day until I got the phone call that she’d come through really well and was resting and happy.”
Dr Renwick said the procedure was a complex one, but one that the practice was happy to help with.
“I think it was a very worthy situation; this dog has given everything to help the owner, and now that the dog needs help, we were happy to step up.
“I think it’s a nice example of how dogs are so important to people and can really help people get through difficult times themselves,” he said.
“There’s a very close bond between the two of them and it’s a pleasure for me to be able to help in that situation and feel that Cas can get something back when she’s given so much.”
Cas’ prognosis looks good, and she is now resting and on medication as she recovers.
Ms Kiernan said she couldn’t be more grateful to the staff at VRH for looking after her beloved pet.
“I just really want to say thankyou to everyone who worked for Cas, from reception staff to nurses and the surgeon. They helped me as well as Cas all the way through.
“The idea of not having her is devastating. I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better dog.”