One of Four Paws and a Tail Photos closest dog friends is Dylan, an English Springer Spaniel. Dylan had a tough early life. He lived with owners who kept him locked in a shed all day. We don’t know how often he was exercised, if at all. Due to his isolation he had no interactions with other dogs. His socialisation skills were zero. He struggled with people too – as the people who were supposed to love him kept him locked up all day.
Luckily he was freed from his captivity by a Spaniel Dog Rescue (Just Springers). Sadly, he was six years old when rescued.
Due to his issues with other dogs and humans no-one came to rescue Dylan. His tenure at the Dog Rescue was looking shaky, nobody wanted him. His issues were deemed to be too great for even the most experienced dog owner to take on and help him overcome. He was fast approaching the point where there was an end point – the worst end point.
Then a miracle happened. A lady came to the Dog Rescue centre that had a history of owning springers and felt for poor Dylan’s plight. She looked into re-homing Dylan and signed his release papers. Dylan had a new home, a new owner, a humummy that cared for him, loved him, provided him shelter, walked him, gave him food and water, a nice warm bed and a sofa to sleep on.
Dylan’s first 6 months with his new humummy was not easy. Dylan had to adjust to a house, a set of rules, a human that wanted to be part of his life, to interact with him, to love him, to give him cuddles and fuss. This was all very strange for the previously imprisoned Dylan.
His humummy had to seek help on a fairly regular basis from the Dog Rescue Centre. He needed support and lots of it. His humummy never wavered. Inside she could see there was a wonderful dog that wanted to say “hello” to the world. She continued to lavish care and love on Dylan. There were times where it looked like he would never adjust, times when she considered the task too large. But, she persevered, she loved that dog, she wanted him to succeed.
All of these things happened 6 years ago. Dylan did adjust. He learned to play by his humummy’s rules. She adjusted her life to him, lavishing care on him, cutting short social occasions to check on him. They became a team. Dylan and his humummy.
His humummy found social media. Twitter was interesting. She set up an account in his name – @DiddlesDog. She started to tweet from his perspective. ‘He’ liked to talk about food, farts (toots) and naughty (norty) behaviour. He captured an audience. Other ‘dogs’ started following Dylan. They had a voice – they had fun. They started to capture people in their network – this is where I met Dylan and his online antics. It was at times really, really funny. Laugh out loud funny. Tears rolling down your face funny.
I got to know Dylan’s online persona but we didn’t get to meet until later, after my family’s darkest hour.
My partner Leigh became pregnant in September 2013 with our first child. The pregnancy went perfectly for 23 weeks. Then Leigh started to feel ill. We took her to hospital and it turned out she had severe pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. This can only develop in pregnant women and is life-threatening. Leigh was very, very poorly and had to be transferred to a specialist hospital in London. Dylan’s humummy works within the health system. She spoke to her boss and asked him about Leigh’s condition. Whilst not an expert in the field he could answer some of her questions about Leigh’s condition. These she relayed back to us and they did help us. She also sent flowers, lots of tweets and pictures from Dylan to try and make us smile – they did!
However, Leigh’s health deteriorated to the point where she had to deliver our son 24 weeks and 5 days into his gestation.
On the morning of delivery I thought they might both die. Mercifully, they both survived. Our son was the smallest human being I had ever seen – weighing less than 1lb (that’s a tin of baked beans).
Mum was rushed to intensive care and our son to Neonatal Intensive Care. I had no real idea what was happening. I was euphoric that our son had survived. Leigh wanted to name him Hugo, I wanted my dad’s name and my middle name Christopher and we agreed our son would take my surname (Parker). So we had Hugo Christopher Parker. This didn’t quite feel right to me. Something was missing. Hugo needed a fourth name. Something playful, naughty even. Then inspiration hit me. Leigh and Hugo were in St. Georges Hospital in London – in the borough of Tooting. Dylan always talks about toots = perfect match. Hugo was now Hugo Christopher Dylan Parker. Dylan’s humummy said Dylan did a huge toot when he heard the news!
Every day we were at the hospital, with Leigh in recovery and Hugo fighting for his life, Dylan’s humummy would send us messages, videos and pictures of Dylan. I would like to add here that lots of you did and for this we are forever grateful! They helped – made us smile during an emotionally draining time.
Sadly, tragically, Hugo didn’t survive. The HELLP syndrome had slowed his growth in Leigh’s womb. He was under-developed, too small and too young. His lungs never worked properly and he succumbed to chronic lung disease 35 days after he was born. We were utterly devastated. In truth we still are 17 months later.
We had a funeral to organise (thank you to Leigh’s mum and brother for taking the responsibility of doing this for us). People came from far and wide top pay their respects to Hugo, our little fighter and to us, his parents. We were and remain touched by this – love to you all. Dylan and his humummy came too and spent time with us at Hugo’s wake.
We subsequently found out that Dylan’s humummy has had a difficult past. Attending a social occasion is a big deal for her.
In the days and weeks after Hugo died Leigh and I retreated into our home. We needed this to try and come to terms with our life being ripped to pieces. We couldn’t venture out. We didn’t want to talk to anybody. We grieved, we cried, we swore, we slept too little, we held each other as we faced a reality that was beyond our worst nightmares. People gave us space – thank you. We really needed it.
Slowly, we started to receive invites to start doing things. Some of these we turned down, thank you to those people for being so understanding.
Dylan’s and his humummy invited us to go and visit them at their home and to stay the night. This was a big step for his humummy. We accepted, we enjoyed ourselves although we were still too raw to not be spaced out most of the time. Dylan had a great time though – Leigh is a complete soft touch with animals and children.
We became friends in the real world as opposed to just online. This friendship has strengthened since – we have holidayed abroad together meeting family, friends and Huggie the Leonberger. He is photogenic too – as you can see!
Sadly, Dylan is now an old dog “No I’m not” he says. He is now 11, a pensioner in human terms (sorry Dylan). He is not slowing down, he moves like a 5 year old spaniel. However, his humummy has noticed a change in his demeanour. A trip to the vet’s found a swelling/lump inside Dylan’s botty bits. This was tested and the diagnosis is that he has a tumour. The next step is for Dylan to have an operation to determine if the tumour is cancerous or benign.
His humummy is devastated. Dylan is her world, as she is to him. They have each other but she has no partner to allay her fears or talk things through with. Humummy understands medical terminology due to her job and she expects the worst. She is petrified by what the vet might find – this is her equivalent of Hugo’s hospital time for us. We are scared for her and Dylan. She also cannot afford to pay for her contribution (above what Dylan’s insurance will cover) of the operation cost.
I woke up yesterday morning and thought I’m going to do something for Dylan and his humummy today. I set-up a Go Fund Me page to see if we could raise some money towards the cost of his operation. The cost is £700. I thought if we could get a couple of hundred pounds that would take some of the pressure off Dylan’s humummy. The idea was take some of the stress of finances away so she can focus solely on Dylan, giving him cuddles, taking photos and the like.
Something magical happened. Once the link was shared on social media donations started coming in regularly, the total rose to £70 (10%) then £100, £160, £210 and on. By lunchtime it was over £300. By dinnertime the total was close to £500. Then last night the total went above £700. Donations came from all over the world. From friends of Dylan on social media, from friends of friends, from people and businesses that do not know Dylan.
Al, I can say is there is a lot of love in the world.
A LOT OF LOVE.
Thank you to each and every one of you had made a donation, share, favourite, re-tweeted and talked about ‘Dylan’s operation cost’.
You are amazing people.
You have shown incredible compassion and love.
Remember, in your time of need there are some amazing people in the world that are there for you and will offer support. We are stronger together!
I’m happy to have been able to provide a platform to help one lovely, norty, tooting spaniel and his humummy.
If you would like to contribute towards Dylan’s operation and aftercare costs please click here:
I will provide updates following his operation on Friday.
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