Thursday, 14 August 2008
Synchronised sitting etc
Here is a quick reprise of the story (written by Luke Warren) that we printed a few issues ago:
Travis the Parson Russell Terrier may be a small dog, but he has helped his owner, 32-year-old Natalie Mangnall, through some hugely difficult times.
In 1998 Natalie was diagnosed with a rare right eye ocular cancer. Her prognosis showed promise and she made a good recovery, but in 2005 Natalie was given the devastating news that the cancer had spread to her left eye cavity.
“I had to have my left eye removed,” says Natalie, “and many operations and radiation treatments followed. Unfortunately the cancer progressed to other areas of my body and I am now part of drug trials as I have an incurable metastatic melanoma disease.”
Despite such hardship, Natalie remains resolute. “I am still a happy person who is very positive,” explains Natalie. “Although I have had a lot happen to me I know I am blessed. We live in a beautiful part of the country, near the Lake District, and I make sure I use my remaining vision to take in the best views. I adore being outdoors with my partner, Richard.”
Natalie and Richard began considering someone special to share their love of the outdoors with. “We deliberated long and hard before we took on the responsibilities of owning a dog due to me being sick,” says Natalie. “But I didn’t want to wait any longer as you only live once and I adore dogs.”
After some contemplation Natalie and Richard settled on a PRT. “We chose a PRT for their outward going character and self-assured determination. They are also intelligent and have great energy,” explains Natalie. “We then picked Travis as he was the most responsive to us. He arrived a ten-week-old rocket-fuelled stubborn little thing.”
To help Natalie better understand her new friend, she enrolled in Sarah Whitehead’s Think Dog course. “I am interested in canine behaviour and canine psychology is the most fascinating subject,” says Natalie. “I intend to take my education further and hopefully work towards a degree.”
Natalie has been able use her new knowledge with her new puppy. “Travis was house trained within a week and learned to ring a bell to go to potty,” explains Natalie. “I adore training my dog. It’s challenging at times but we learn a lot from each other. I have learned so much more about dogs since starting the course, and this has helped to develop Travis’ behaviour.”
Travis has now become quite a polite PRT. “He has very good manners and knows tricks that we practise everywhere,” describes Natalie. “Travis knows basic commands, does a really good tired eye trick and can weave a little doggie dancing. He fetches my mail and even tidies his toys away when playtime is up. Travis also does a great “stick ‘um up and play dead” trick, which is usually followed by a chew bone!”
Travis’ huge appetite and zest for life has revitalised Natalie and her own energy levels. “During my first set of chemotherapy I was very tired. But I knew if I gave in my little Parson would suffer if I didn’t drag myself up and out for his daily walks,” says Natalie. “Travis has motivated me to get up and put one foot in front of the other.”
Like her PRT, Natalie’s prevailing determination, dedication and incredible bravery, coupled with Travis’ sheer strength of character and companionship, has helped her in ways no treatments could. “Dogs live in the moment and have a thirst for life, and Travis has made me realise I need to do the same. He has given me so many laughs with his wonderful personality,” says Natalie, “and took my mind off feelings about sickness. Travis has redirected my behaviour to focus on having fun with him.”
Whereas many would have crumbled under such adversity, Natalie and Travis have formed a relationship built with love, learning and exercise. “Travis is usually tired from his day of doggie bliss and takes himself to bed around seven,” says Natalie. “He usually sleeps until morning if he’s not on the sofa with us and the cats having a big cuddle. Travis is so well behaved because he knows we understand his needs as a dog. Travis lives to his full potential.”
Since this story ran Natalie and Travis have been joined by a beautiful Irish Setter puppy called Finnella. Natalie was sadly too poorly to come to the Cold Wet Nose Show as she was having a bad reaction to her second batch of chemo. However, since then she's been getting on with life and training her two lovely dogs.
She sent me a link to show how she's been getting on. I have to say I am in awe! Do watch this little film. It made me smile a lot. If she could train the dogs to dive they'd have won us medals in the Olympics!
Click here to see the short film on You Tube. Anyone who has ever tried to train an Irish Setter will be very impressed!