Sparky was our second rescue dog. We found him in 2002, he was about six months old. He was in a small crate next door to where we lived, in Portugal. He was left without food or water for several days, apart from what we gave him. When we got home from the restaurant, Mino would let him out of this crate and leave him free for a while. Sparky used to go crazy and jump around, licking us, then we would put him back before his owners returned. After four days without food or water, Mino took him. We kept him hidden for a few days, but the neighbours didn’t even seem to notice that he wasn’t there.
Sparky travelled to Puglia with Mino, along with Bessie and the two cats Hank and Minnie.
In 2012 Sparky seemed to be having problems walking, we all thought (vets included) that it was his knee as he had had two previous operations on his knee. It turned out that he had broken his ankle. The vet set it and put it in plaster to see if it would knit together and mend. During the treatment for his ankle, the vet told us that he thought it was most likely that Sparky had bone cancer. We were shocked, stunned and absolutely devastated when the biopsy confirmed that Sparky had osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Sparky was 10 years old and a bit overweight, even though we had him on a diet for weeks he never managed to lose anything. Sparky had to have his back leg amputated, we were so worried, not knowing how he would cope. After the operation, he was so brave, but he looked so sad. We showered him with love and attention, more than ever.
On top of this in 2013, Sparky was diagnosed with severe arthritis in his hips and spine, he was taking Rimadyl for this and it did seem to help him. However he did not cope very well with three legs, the ruffwear harness we had bought for him did not help much. We needed to buy him a “helpemup” harness but they were so expensive. Thankfully our friends and supporters rallied around and made contributions to the cost of the new harness. Sparky then developed problems with his elbows with open wounds on both of them. I researched this problem and discovered that it’s quite common for dogs with amputations. It’s a very very difficult place to heal and a very very difficult place to bandage. We had to change his dressing three times a day and tried to keep him off the floor, as here in Italy, we don’t have carpets, we are all hard tiles. These pressure sores can be very difficult to treat, as we know. Despite Sparky being on his second course of antibiotics, the wounds became infected. A friend of mine in England sent me out some manuka honey, to start with it seemed to work, but it was not enough. He must have been in a lot of pain, as when I change his dressing he would put his teeth on my hand, as a warning “you hurt me anymore and I will bite you”. He was such a good boy. Despite our best efforts, both elbows had to be operated on. Once again our friends and supporters rallied round to help us with the cost of the operation, I don’t know how we would manage without them. On top of all his troubles, Sparky also tested positive for Leishmanoise, which he was on yet on another medication for. His prognosis was not good. But he defied all odds and went on another 7 years.
We lost Sparky in February 2019, our darling little boy went to his final resting place. Sparky you were such a trooper, you were so brave. Sparky went to sleep in my arms with me telling him how much we loved him. We could not allow him to suffer any longer! Our lights went out that day! But how lucky we were to have had you in our lives for almost 17 years, you were so full of love.
The hardest part of having a dog is having to say goodbye.