16 November 2023

A young puppy who was left paralysed in his back legs and unable to even wag his tail after a freak accident is now back on all paws thanks to Specialist treatment here at Willows.

Eleven-week-old Sussex spaniel Elton suffered a severely bruised spinal cord after jumping off a half-metre high wall in front of his horrified owner Philippa Gascoyne from Ashbourne in Derbyshire. 

Philippa admitted she feared Elton may never walk again, however, expert care by our veterinary physiotherapy team has seen him make a remarkable recovery.

An image of Elton, a brown Sussex spaniel, being held by his owner, Philippa, a white woman with brown hair. Standing next to Philippa is Holly, a white woman with dark hair wearing blue scrubs.

The injured puppy, who had a starring role in Willows’ recent Channel 5 series The Dog Hospital, was treated by Willows’ Veterinary Physiotherapist Holly Finelli and responded superbly to an intensive period of rehab which remarkably saw him back on his feet within a fortnight.

Holly explained: “Elton was completely paraplegic when he came to us. He had no movement of his back legs or tail and we were not sure whether he would regain movement again.

“An MRI scan showed severe swelling of the spinal cord and he was immediately admitted for an intensive course of treatment, involving physiotherapy two to three times a day and laser therapy once a day.

“The fact he was a such a young puppy added to the challenge as he was very playful and couldn’t concentrate on a particular activity for long.

“We soon found food was the way to his heart! This enabled a slightly longer concentration time to perform the physiotherapy.

“Happily, Elton’s movement started to return so we progressed the physiotherapy exercises to challenge him further and, despite all our reservations, he began to take steps without assistance.

“That’s when we were able to challenge his walking ability with even more difficult physiotherapy exercises and Elton improved to regain full mobility.

“He was allowed home after two weeks and, at six months old, he was completely discharged from the physiotherapy service at Willows and is now living the normal life of a puppy.”

An image of Elton, a Brown Sussex Spaniel, lying on a dark blue mat looking up at the camera

A delighted Philippa said: “To have him back on his legs means more than you can imagine. I’m so happy and I can’t thank Holly and Willows enough.”

Philippa’s joy is in stark contrast to the horror she felt at the time of Elton’s accident. She added: “It was awful, especially as I was only two metres from him when it happened.

“Elton just jumped off a small wall that borders the garden path and you can’t understand how such a small fall can cause such horrific injuries.

“It destroyed me inside to know I had not been able to prevent it happening.

“He was squealing on the floor. I tried to get him to stand up but there was nothing in his back legs, no movement at all and not even a wag of his tail.

“His spinal cord was swollen and the vets said they hoped that, as the swelling reduced, he would regain some movement – but said they could make no promises.

“That’s why I find his recovery so amazing. There were no guarantees but his progress and improvement have been fantastic and Elton’s a real success story.”

You can catch up with all episodes of Willows’ four-part television series here.