Save Our Spaniel: The doggie with deformed elbows

dog with deformed elbows

by take-a-break |
Updated on

Bekki and her family were smitten with their fun-loving pup. But then the vet gave them devastating news…

save our spaniel dog with deformed legs

I opened the washing machine door, ready to pile in the heap of laundry.

But quick as a flash, a ball of fluff darted into the heap, retrieved a sock and ran away with it.

‘Jaxson,’ I giggled. ‘Not yours!’

Our new, 16-week-old puppy was obsessed with stealing socks.

But I couldn’t stay mad at him.

With his tan and white fur and golden-brown eyes, he was _paw_sitively gorgeous.

Along with my partner Eren and son Taylor, we’d been so excited to get a dog.

And we’d all fallen well and truly in puppy love.

We’d opted for a cocker spaniel as we were an active family.

And Jaxson had energy in spades.

‘He’s full of beans, isn’t he?’ Eren chuckled as we watched Jaxson dart about.

Now, all the toys we’d bought for him lay discarded, in favour of socks.

'He'll be lucky to reach two years'

And it wasn’t just unworn ones that took his fancy.

Sometimes, I’d be sat on the sofa and our little sock-thief would start tugging at my feet.

When Jaxson had his vaccinations, we were excited to take him for his first walk.

But I noticed he kept stopping along the way.

‘Maybe he isn’t used to walks,’ I said to Eren.

But the more we walked, the more Jaxson seemed unsteady on his front paws.

And when we met other puppies in the park, they seemed to be running about fine, whereas Jaxson was shaky.

We took him to the vet’s.

save our spaniel dog with deformed legs

‘His elbows don’t feel right,’ the vet said. ‘I’ll do an X-ray.’

When we returned a few hours later, the vet looked grave.

‘Jaxson’s elbows aren’t forming as they should be,’ he said. ‘I haven’t seen any as bad as this before.’

My stomach dropped.

‘What does this mean for Jaxson? I asked.

‘For now, he doesn’t know any different. He’s young and more tolerant to pain,’ the vet explained. ‘But as time goes on, the pain will eventually be too much.’

What he said next floored me.

‘He’ll be lucky to reach two years, before he’ll need to be put down for the pain,’ he added.

‘What?’ I gasped, as Eren put his arm around me.

We’d just welcomed this beautiful ball of energy into our family.

'Oh, Jaxson, you don't deserve this'

The thought of losing him was too much to bear.

The vet said it was a genetic problem Jaxson had been born with.

As Jaxson looked up at me, none the wiser, my heart broke in two.

He licked my hand as if to say: What’s wrong? Cheer up Mum!

‘Oh Jaxson,’ I cried, stroking him.

The vet gave us some anti-inflammatory medication to help with the pain.

Back home, we broke the news to Taylor.

‘Poor boy,’ Taylor said, pulling Jaxson into his lap while he covered his face with licks.

We were all worried about our pup’s future.

Meanwhile, Jaxson seemed his usual, full-of-beans self.

Save our spaniel dog with deformed legs

He loved exploring our garden and would try and chase the birds that landed on the bird table, as well as haring after Taylor’s football.

‘He’s popped it again,’ Taylor would sigh, but he never really minded.

To start with, Jaxson could still manage short walks.

But his front paws were turning outwards as they grew.

And soon, he couldn’t put full pressure on them.

Researching online, I read about doggy strollers and managed to find one on Facebook Marketplace.

‘I know this isn’t ideal,’ I told Jaxson as he gave the stroller a curious sniff. ‘But it means you can go for longer walks.’

At the word ‘walk’, his tail wagged madly.

After that, we took the stroller on walks and would pop Jaxson in when he got tired.

save our spaniel dog with deformed legs

He didn’t protest, but I knew he wanted to be out exploring and playing with other dogs.

By now, we were giving him paracetamol with his food, as well as anti-inflammatories, as advised by the vet.

Then someone on Facebook asked if we’d considered a second opinion.

‘It’s worth a try,’ Eren said.

So, we saw another vet, but he said the same as the first.

‘I can refer you to a specialist practice who could perform surgery on Jaxson’s elbows, though’, he said.

But he had a warning.

‘The treatment would be very expensive,’ he said.

Doggie with deformed elbows

We were desperate to help our beloved boy. But we didn’t have thousands of pounds lying about.

‘You could try fundraising,’ the vet suggested.

So, I created a JustGiving page for Jaxson’s treatment.

In time, we booked to see the specialist, who carried out a CT scan.

‘Unfortunately Jaxson’s elbows are in a very bad way,’ the specialist said. ‘So an elbow replacement isn’t possible.’

‘But what we can do is a bilateral elbow arthrodesis operation where we would fit plates to Jax’s elbows which would remove the pain,’ he explained.

The bad news was, it would cost about £20,000.

My heart sank.

We didn’t have that kind of money.

‘We just can’t afford it,’ Eren said. We were both heartbroken.

By now our fundraising had reached a few hundred pounds - nowhere near enough.

‘We could use the money for hydrotherapy for Jaxson instead, to give him some pain relief,’ I suggested back home, as I stroked Jaxson’s long, floppy ears.

‘Oh Jaxson, you don’t deserve this,’ I said, pulling him in for a cuddle.

I tucked him in bed with a treat and headed to bed.

Next day, I came downstairs and Jaxson gave me his usual welcome of a wagging tail and kisses.

He was a ray of sunshine.

And as the day went on, I knew we couldn’t give up on helping him.

‘I can’t live with myself if we haven’t tried everything,’ I told Eren.

‘I agree,’ he said.

So I updated our JustGiving page, writing: I know this is such a huge amount of money to try and find, but Jaxson is everything to us and it’s 100 per cent worth it if it gets us closer to easing his pain and giving him a better life.

I was touched by people’s donations.

Jaxson’s puppy trainer organised a sponsored dog walk in our local area, then held a raffle, raising £200 in total.

Despite his problems, Jaxson continued to be playful, loving and full of energy. He’d run around the house but then his paws would limit him, and by the end of the day he’d be wobbly and exhausted.

It would upset us when Jaxson had a particularly bad day.

But Jaxson would be the one to cheer us up, jumping on the sofa for a cuddle as we watched TV.

He was happiest squeezed right between us.

Now, we’ve raised £7000, but still have a long way to go. We plan to do more sponsored walks and I’m doing a raffle at work.

But time is running out.

Jaxson is one and a half now, and we can only take him out in his stroller now as he can’t walk on his paws without them collapsing.

He’ll often sit by the window and watch other dogs running and playing.

I just want him to be able to do the same.

Jaxson blesses our lives with so much love, joy and laughter.

I’ll do everything in my power to give our special boy the life he deserves.

Bekki Woolnough, 41, Beccles, Suffolk

*To donate to Jaxson’s surgery, go to and search jaxsons journey

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