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Minnie lying on a red bean bag

Minnie lying on a red bean bag

Two Special Kent Dogs Don't Need To Learn Any New Tricks

7 months ago

16th May, 2023 10h19

Pennard Vets

Two dogs from Kent that don’t need to learn any new tricks because they’re perfect exactly how they are, have been honoured with special pet CBEs by Kent veterinary group, Pennard Vets, in recognition of the major roles they play in their families’ lives.

The award from the veterinary group, which has seven Kent practices, coincides with this month’s coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, and the two dogs will be rewarded with a professional photoshoot.

Archie is a seven-year-old Cocker Spaniel who lives near Tonbridge in a pack of working dogs with owner Don Hallett, who has been breeding, working and training Cocker Spaniels for more than 40 years.

Last year Don’s partner Sue collapsed while walking Archie and two other dogs, due to an undiagnosed heart condition. Archie immediately began jumping up and down on her chest, which helped bring her round, before she was rushed to hospital and underwent open heart surgery soon after. She’s now on the road to recovery.

Then in January this year, Archie was working in Penshurst, next to the River Medway, which was flowing fast following days of heavy rain. Suddenly a young and screaming fallow deer appeared in the river after falling in upstream.

Archie jumped into the river and swam to the deer, before swimming against the current and dragging it back to the shore, where Don and several others could pull it out and save it from drowning.

Don said: “I’ve owned and worked with dozens of Cocker Spaniels over the past four decades, but Archie has always stood out. He’s very laid back, but at the same time he’s always thinking and very alert. When Sue collapsed, the other two dogs carried on as normal, but Archie knew something was wrong and pounced all over her to bring her round, and she had the bruises to prove it!

“Then when he saw the deer struggling in a fast flowing and very full river, he instinctively went to its rescue and had the knowledge and ability to drag it back to dry land without injuring it, which was a very difficult thing to do.

“Unfortunately, he’s also had his fair share of heartache. Being working dogs, they live in kennels and he shared his kennel with his best friend Poppy, who sadly died of a brain tumour recently. Before we knew she was ill, his behaviour changed and he was always sniffing her head. After she died, he was very upset and it took him a while to get over it, but thankfully he’s now back to his affectionate, intelligent and special self.”

Minnie is a 13-year-old Schnauzer from Knockholt near Sevenoaks and has had a major impact on her family’s lives, from being a companion to elderly grandparents to checking on each of her family members each morning.

She always recognises everyone’s emotions and supports anyone who needs her affection, as well as keeping her family entertained with her dog dancing, which she does at exactly 6.55am each morning before breakfast, and all while dealing with her own significant health challenges. In recent years she’s had two cruciate ligament replacements and is now battling arthritis, acute pancreatitis and dementia. However, her infectious enthusiasm and love of life has persuaded several other family members to welcome Schnauzers into their homes.

Minnie’s owner, Elizabeth Heron, said: “Our daughter Eleanor had been pestering us for a puppy for months and when we eventually agreed, she’d already researched a local breeder, who we went to meet.

“We originally wanted a very small dog, but when discussing our home and lifestyle with the breeder, they suggested we consider a more robust and energetic breed, and said a Schnauzer would be ideal, which proved to be excellent advice! Minnie has had a huge impact on all our lives and both my son and sister also now have Schnauzers as a result.

“Life isn’t always easy for Minnie. She has arthritis in her spine, which is managed by monthly injections, as well as acute pancreatitis and although she’s sometimes in pain, it doesn’t stop her always being loving and affectionate. Due to her age, she’s also beginning to suffer from dementia, which can cause her to have panic attacks, but cuddles from her family in a dark room calm her down and Pennard Vets are always on hand to provide help and support to Minnie, as well as our family, whenever it’s need, which is very reassuring.

“Despite all this, Minnie is always a joy to be around. She is an amazing companion to everyone she knows and entertains us with her unique dancing in front of the fridge at exactly the same time each morning! All our lives are infinitely better for having her.”

Dr Caroline Collins, from Pennard Vets, said: “We love to hear inspirational stories about amazing pets and Archie and Minnie are great examples of the important roles they play in humans’ lives. We are very pleased to present them with these awards and photography sessions. Archie and Minnie will both be made to feel very special and I’m sure the pictures will take pride of place in Don and Elizabeth’s homes.”

A group of Pennard Vets’ 110-strong team voted to select the winners from across its seven Kent practices in Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Allington, Borough Green, Langley Park and West Malling.

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