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Terrier whose life was saved by vets now fighting fit aged 18

With no owner to be found, the black and tan cross was rescued by Friends of the Dogs Wales, a charity that supports stray and abandoned dogs, and later cared for by the team at Valley Vets in Cardiff.

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On examination the charity’s vets found she was suffering from a hernia and lumps were discovered on her glands. Details from her microchip revealed she was 17 years.

It was touch and go whether they would operate or put her to sleep due to her old age, but because she had a wonderful nature the charity decided to operate.

Millie’s fighting spirit and good nature caught the attention of Julia Hilbourne, a visitor to the charity when Millie was recovering.

Julia decided that Millie was the pooch for her and after a successful operation the terrier had a new home in Canton, Cardiff.


Now, one year on, Millie is loving her new life and is registered to Valley Vets where she is one of the oldest dogs practice books. At almost 18 years old, Millie is the equivalent of being 88 in human years.

Julia said:

“At first I thought I would be happy if she was with me for a year, but she is battling on month by month with the support and care of the team at Valley Vets. I truly believe she wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for their continuing care.”

Millie is a regular visitor to Valley for laser therapy to treat her back spasms and has monthly physiotherapy.

Practice Manager and physiotherapist Nichi Cockburn is passionate about the quality of life of our ageing pet generation.

She said: “Julia has been a real blessing for Millie and her remarkable life continues thanks to her love and attention.

“With the advances in clinical care and veterinary help we are seeing that dogs are living longer, and it is important owners keep an eye on their pet for signs of change in health and behaviour as they reach their twilight years.

“There is so much that can be done for our senior patients from pain medication, home modification, physiotherapy and home-based exercise.

“Owners often remark that after we have started this combined approach, that their pet starts to display behaviours that they haven’t seen in years, like pinching slippers!”

Julia wanted to rescue a dog as she was spending a lot of time caring for her elderly parents and it would provide ideal companionship.

Sadly, Julia’s father passed away earlier this year after suffering from dementia and her mother now lives on her own.

Julia added: “I visit my mother each day to cook and take her out and about. I bring Millie with me every time and she is fantastic with her. Millie was also amazingly gentle with my father and gave him something to focus on.”

The years have taken their toll on Millie and she is deaf and has lost most of her teeth, something Julia must be careful with when it comes to meal times.

Julia added: “She likes to eat soft foods and as a treat I’ll give her pâté or mackerel. I do find myself doing some odd things to treat her, for example I was cooking her basmati rice and salmon at 10pm and caught myself thinking what on earth was I doing!”

To offer extra help and support to owners of older pets, Valley Vets is running a Prime of Life campaign throughout November and December.

A range of leaflets and other information is available at the practice’s sites. For further information call 029 2052 9444.