A Meath dog who was given just months to live has become one of the first Irish pets to undergo pioneering cancer treatment by staff of the UK's 'Supervet'.
Owner Joan Larkin drove 2,000kms from Slane, Co Meath to Surrey twice to obtain the life-saving treatment for her beloved pet Cookie after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Tragically, the diagnosis and poor prognosis came just five days after Joan's mum sadly died.
However, 10-year old Cookie Shiels, who is a Cocker Bichon Cross, is now recovering after the prostatic embolisation two weeks ago at Fitzpatrick's Referrals in Surrey two weeks ago.
"I had left Cookie with my friend Margherita Cummins who runs Keanesfield Kennels in Dunshaughlin while I went to see my mum, who was sick, in Galway," she told LMFM Radio.
"They noticed that he was clingy and had difficulty going to the toilet so I took her straight to my vet Emi Cappurro in Shenick Vets in Skerries, Co. Dublin for tests.'
'A lonely journey'
"My mum died on June 19 and Cookie was diagnosed with prostate cancer on the 24. There was no real treatment for cancer in dogs here and he was given a few months, tops.
"Emi and myself researched and researched until I found that Fitzpatrick's in the UK carried out specialised treatment. I admit I didn't think it through when I first made the journey to Surrey because I was obviously still grieving after my mum's death. So it was a knee-jerk reaction to bring Cookie over for assessment after a referral by Emi.
"It was a lonely journey and I didn't know what to expect. I had to find dog-friendly hotels and dog friendly places to eat. I met so many people on the journey to the UK who were so kind when they heard our story and some of whom are still in contact."
Fitzpatrick's Referrals is the first veterinary centre to offer the procedure in Europe, starting last December and since then has performed the operation on a small number of dogs.
Due to otherwise good health and the fact that the cancer had been caught early, Cookie was deemed a suitable candidate for the operation.
Joan took him home for six sessions of chemotherapy and returned for the operation on September 26 last.
"He underwent a prostatic embolisation which meant that they cut off the blood supply to the prostate so the tumour had nothing to feed off. It's still there but it's harmless.
"I'm told by the vets over there that he was the first Irish dog to undergo the procedure"
Cookie is recovering well but will still need regular ultrasounds and some chemotherapy in case of any stray cancer cells.
"While it was a knee-jerk reaction, I'd do it again in the morning. Apart from my husband and my kids who are all grown up, he's my best pal and my life now. It was never an option not to do it.
"I'd have moved heaven and earth to try and buy him extra time and I did.
"It's been just two weeks since his pioneering surgery and to see my little dog racing around like a youngster makes every step of the journey worthwhile."