Irrepressible rescue Rocky, a nine-year-old Springer Spaniel, provides invaluable emotional support for mum Tanya, who is living with multiple sclerosis, and dad Ian. But his sweet nature belies the fact that he is living in constant pain after a failed elbow operation elsewhere left him limping and struggling to walk. He’s been brought to Fitzpatricks to discuss with Noel what options there may be for relieving his pain and returning him to a full life.


Options include possible removal of the entire leg; fusion of the elbow, with arthrodesis, which would render it without any movement; or a total elbow replacement which may give him a moving, pain-free elbow.

Rocky’s family opt for a custom total elbow replacement, which Noel has developed, and after obtaining appropriate ethics approval, Noel prepares for a complex surgery. “He’s an extraordinary dog, to tolerate this much pain with so much grace.”

But surgery proves hugely problematic because Rocky’s bones have been eroded even further by a previously misplaced implant, so Noel has to abandon the total elbow replacement. He calls the family mid-operation to explain, but fortunately, Noel had already discussed and was ready for Plan B, which involves a custom implant he has also invented. The family need to urgently decide what they would like Noel to do in Rocky’s best interest.