English Bulldog Dolly is suffering in a major way. Linzi and her daughter adopted her from a charity nine weeks previously and they’re already besotted- she had been caged, used to breed from, starved and then tied to a bench. They knew Dolly had issues from the start as “she walks like a duck” but things go from bad to worse for poor Dolly as it turns out that all four legs are damaged, and a cancerous lump is discovered on top of all this. Linzi is torn between concern about the amount of surgery Dolly will need, and her desperation to give Dolly every chance possible for a happy future, after her tough first years.



Dolly was severely painful on all four of her poor legs when Noel first met her. Linzi and her family reported that it had progressed to the point where she had trouble getting up and around, and her family, who were devoted to their beloved new family member, were desperate to do whatever they could and sought the help of Fitzpatrick Referrals.

Noel confirmed that as well as her unstable knees with severe arthritis, she also had deformities in her front legs. All four of her little legs would need to undergo surgery – a huge ask for any living creature. Both Linzi and Noel discussed carefully the right path for Dolly, and questioned their moral responsibility to only proceed if it was right, and in Dolly’s interests. The decision was made that it was a fight worth fighting, and Noel proceeded to operate. Firstly on the hind legs, and then on the front.

Surgery was performed to treat the ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments in both knees of her hind legs. However, during the preparation for this procedure, a lump was discovered, and whilst on the operating table it was removed for further investigation. If the lump was cancerous, this would result in further problems for Dolly, who had already been through so much.


Laurent Findji, Cancer Specialist at Fitzpatrick Referrals, investigated the lump and thankfully after running tests it was discovered to be benign to everyone’s relief.

Six weeks later both of Dolly’s front legs were operated on to correct the deformities in her legs that would make them straight and no longer causing her to waddle like a duck!  External frames were used to hold the bones in their new and corrected position while they healed.

A number of weeks later the frames were removed and the bones had healed nicely into their new place and Dolly was a new dog, and much to her family and Noel’s delight, she was no longer in pain, and could look forward to a bright, happy and healthy future.

In Noels words

The decision to operate on a much loved family pet is always fraught with emotion. On the one hand you want to know that you have done your very best for your friend, and on the other you don’t want to put them through too much if there isn’t a reasonable chance of recovery to a good quality of life.
For Dolly this decision was even more poignant because she had been so badly treated before her rescue. Linzi and her family needed to know that they had exhausted every reasonable avenue to find a solution to Dolly’s painful four legs. Equally however, they realised, as I advised them, it’s not enough to be able to do something, it must be the right thing to do for that animal and that family at that moment in time. There is no one solution that’s always appropriate. There is no one right answer. It’s all about balancing risk with potential reward and knowing that you have done your very best. No regrets.
Sadly not only did Dolly have painful arthritic knees, but also painful warped front legs which were causing her to stumble and she was very stiff when trying to get around. On top of all of that she had lump in her breast and for a while we were all worried that it might be bad cancer. Thankfully it wasn’t. Thankfully too it was possible to fix her front and back legs.
Even though she had been through so much in life and even though her medical problems led to her having to go through so much more, she was always smiley and always happy to see me and always gave me a big tongue kiss. She’s a really lovely girl and she really did deserve a chance at a pain free life.
She was so very lucky to find Linzi and her family – but they were even more lucky to find her. She brings such joy and happiness wherever she goes. It was a rocky road to success, but success it was. I’m so very happy that she now gets to hopefully live out her days without pain and in the loving warmth of Linzi’s family. Linzi’s adoption of Dolly is a lesson to all of us. A lesson in compassion, bravery, trust, moral responsibility and most of all love.
Thank you Linzi for giving beautiful Dolly a chance. Thank you Dolly for giving us all belief in faith, hope and redemption. All three are vital to embrace the emotional journey that was necessary and all three are a shining example to all of us of the power of unconditional love.