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  • Angela Christou

VNS Tash's week with Shelby

Written by: VNS Natasha.

This is Shelby, a beautiful Cairn Terrier whom I was able to look after while his family went on holiday. I’d like to think that Shelby and I became fast friends very quickly. When I first came to meet his parents, he came bounding over to say hello. After a quick sniff, he was demanding my attention.




Shelby had some special requirements as he had recently undergone ankle fusion surgery. This meant that Shelby had exercise restrictions to ensure his healing stayed on track and he didn’t re-injure his leg. He wasn’t allowed to go for walks, (poor Shelby!). Shelby would get very excited by the possums living in the trees in the backyard, so he had to be kept on leash when going to the toilet. Mum and Dad told me they had to buy a new leash, so that Shelby wouldn’t think he was going for a walk every time they picked it up.


Shelby had to have quite a large area of hair shaved where he had his surgery. Although it was beginning to grow back, it would be quite some time before he was back to normal. I was warned not to laugh at his ‘chicken leg’ – Shelby didn’t like that at all!


It had been nearly 6 weeks since Shelby’s surgery, and while we didn’t want Shelby running, his vet had advised that encouraging him to use his leg would prevent muscle loss and help his ankle to heal. Shelby, however, was smart enough to realise that he could go faster if he lifted his sore ankle and hopped along on his three good legs. When I took Shelby outside on the leash, we walked very slowly, much to his disgust. The slow pace made it harder for him to hop along, instead forcing him to walk on four legs.



At night and when I had to go to work, Shelby had to go into his crate to make sure he didn’t try to jump up onto the couch or run around inside while I wasn’t watching. This stopped him from getting into trouble but left him plenty of room to move around. I made sure he had a toy, and his breakfast, if he hadn’t eaten it already. Luckily, I didn’t have to work much during my stay, so Shelby was able to roam the house, under supervision.


Shelby’s favourite toy was a little stuffed bird. He would often sit under my feet and quietly play while I watched Netflix or studied. Unfortunately, not all pretty toys are the best design for dogs to play with. Shelby managed to pull out the tail feathers and wings. I was worried he had eaten them, so I had to keep a close eye on his eating and toilet time. Luckily, Shelby had eaten very little of the tail feathers, preferring to leave them lying around.


In severe cases, indigestible items such as socks, corn cobs, small toys and many others, can cause intestinal blockage and sometimes require surgical removal. If you suspect your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, its best to contact your local vet for advice. Be careful when buying toys for your dogs – the pretty ones are not always the best! Our friends at KONG have a great sturdy range of toys specifically designed by experts for your pet.



I had a wonderful time looking after Shelby. I’m already missing his big brown eyes looking up at me when I’m cooking or eating. I know he was overjoyed to have his family home again.

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