Lily – a miracle of survival

Gorgeous nearly 8-year-old golden retriever Lily first came to see us when she was just 17 weeks old in September 2014 with a swallowing problem. One of our consultants tested Lily and diagnosed her with Cricopharyngeal Asynchrony, an extremely rare and life threating condition where dogs are unable to swallow. At the time we supported Laura, Lily’s owner with valuable suggestions on how to keep her alive. Because her condition requires such careful and creative management, Laura was told a number of times by professionals that she would never be able to keep her alive or give her any quality of life. Well, Lily has proved them wrong, not only does she but she enhances the lives of many others.

Even with this lifelong condition Lily, has been a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog since she was 9 months old, working at schools and residential care homes.

She completed 224 assignments but then shockingly for Laura was referred to us again and diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer. She underwent surgery with us in November 2019 followed by rounds of chemotherapy. Dogs with hemangiosarcoma tend to only last weeks or months never usually years. Lily has defied all the odds!

Because of her amazing PAT work Laura, was given a Citizen of Honour award from Fareham Borough Council in 2019.

Lily is also a star in her own right being the subject of two books. Her first is non-fiction, Lily: One in a Million, A Miracle of Survival which tells the story of how, with Laura’s love and support Lily has survived her congenital swallowing condition.

Lily’s second book, The Adventures of Lily and the Little Lost Doggie, is a children’s book which Laura illustrated with 53 drawings. Lily autographed and gave her surgeon and oncologist a copy!
Lily has always brought sunshine to the team at AMVS because she has always positively responded to the treatments.

Because of her swallowing difficulties, her dedicated owner Laura has to feed her by hand for every mouthful of food and give her about a litre of water every day by one tablespoon at a time so that she can lick the liquid from the bottom of her ‘lickie bowl’ (she can’t lap water without choking), her continual recovery and strength of character has been nothing short of a miracle.

In February this year, beating all of the odd Lily went ‘back to work’ on her first assignment since October 2019, brightening the lives of residents at Hamble Heights Residential Care Home where she has spent so many happy hours previously. She has now completed 228 PAT assignments.

Laura said “Thank you so much again for giving us yet another Christmas and another year with Lily. After she was diagnosed with such an extremely aggressive cancer, she has been given the most amazing care, biopsies, surgery, chemotherapy and monitoring. After over two years she has been declared free of this horrible cancer and to have had her with us still, to us, is another miracle of survival.”