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Meet the animal lover who acts as ‘guide dog’ to her beloved blind cocker spaniel

Meet the animal lover who acts as ‘guide dog’ to her beloved blind cocker spaniel
Berkshire woman Michelle L’Estrange, 55, goes above and beyond for her ageing cocker spaniel, Mollie

An animal lover who became “like a guide dog” to her ageing cocker spaniel after cataracts made the pooch so blind she fell downstairs and tumbled into a lake is eternally indebted to her vet for restoring her beloved pet’s sight.

Devoted to spaniel Mollie, 14, who she looks on as her “little girl”, Michele L’Estrange, 55, last year spotted the tell-tale film of cataracts, which shroud the lens and impair vision.

Advised by her vet to wait for surgery until the condition was more advanced, by Christmas 2021, Mollie needed help, falling down the stairs and even into a lake.

A close up of Mollie’s eye showing the cataract (PA Real life/Collect)
A close up of Mollie’s eye showing the cataract (PA Real life/Collect)

Business operations director Michele, of Wokingham, Berkshire, mentionné: “It was so sad to see.

“She just couldn’t be walked off the lead anymore. I had to guide her around the house and up the stairs.

“In the end she’d just sit in one place as she was frightened of hitting things.”

All I’d hear every now and again was this yelping.

Elle a dit: “I tried not to move any furniture and didn’t even put a Christmas tree up, but she’d walk straight into walls. I mean those aren’t moving!"

Michele has an unbreakable bond with Mollie who came into her life at just 12 weeks old.

Since her arrival, she has cherished their daily walks together to a local nature reserve, with Michele describing Mollie as “the most loving little dog,” who always greets her at their front door with a toy in her mouth.

Michele enjoying the great outdoors (PA Real life/Collect)
Michele enjoying the great outdoors (PA Real life/Collect)

Until her cataracts, she loyally traipsed after her around the house, sitting beside her in the study while she worked and following her upstairs to bed every evening.

And so it was that Mollie’s failing sight also came as a massive blow to Michele, who would do anything for her dog.

Elle a dit: “I took Mollie to the vet and was told she had cataracts. But the vet explained they’d need to get more severe before surgery was an option.”

Mollie the dog (PA Real life/Collect)
Mollie the dog (PA Real life/Collect)

Michele added: “By the end of last year, poor Mollie was virtually blind. She became very subdued. She kept bumping into things.

“All I’d hear every now and again was this yelping. She’d have smacked into a wall. Over Christmas she fell down the stairs. Merci Dieu she was OK.

“The nature reserve we walk around has a massive lake, but Mollie hates water. She always has done.”

It was heart-breaking to see how drastically Mollie’s personality changed.

Elle a continué: “One day we were walking, she was right beside me, went off the wrong way and just walked straight into the lake.

“She was so shocked and absolutely freezing. I had to rush her back to the car and dry her off.

“It was heart-breaking to see how drastically Mollie’s personality changed as her cataracts developed, up to the point where she was practically blind.”

Mollie enjoying the nature reserve again (PA Real life/Collect)
Mollie enjoying the nature reserve again (PA Real life/Collect)

Realising Mollie’s eyesight had got much worse, Michele took to only walking her beloved pup on a lead and guiding her around their home.

This January, she also took Mollie back to the vet who agreed the time was right for surgery and made an urgent referral to Eastcott Veterinary Referrals in Swindon, Wiltshire.

Mollie was diagnosed with hyper-mature cataracts, which had left her lenses wrinkled and shrunken.

Mollie 24 hours after surgery (PA Real life/Collect)
Mollie 24 hours after surgery (PA Real life/Collect)

Mais, despite her age, she was deemed to be a good candidate for double cataract surgery.

Donc, en février 2022, Mollie had a three-hour operation – with Michele paying 20 per cent of the £4,500 fee while the rest was covered by pet insurance.

Elle a dit: “I was really worried about the surgery as Mollie’s not a young dog. But I knew in my heart that I had to do it to make sure whatever years she has left are the best they can be.”

Mollie with one of her ‘gifts’ (PA Real life/Collect)
Mollie with one of her ‘gifts’ (PA Real life/Collect)

Michele added: “The moment I went to pick her up it was incredible as she came straight for me. Previously she’d just been looking through me.

"Je pensais, 'Oh mon Dieu, she can see!’ She was like a completely different dog to the one I dropped off.

“She was so happy and bubbly and just full of life. I knew immediately that I’d made the best decision for her. More importantly, her eyes looked amazing and there was a notable difference in her behaviour and her personality.”

Michele continued: “It’s not just me who has noticed the difference either. So many of my friends have commented on what a big positive change she has had since the surgery. It’s as though it has taken five years off her age and I am so incredibly grateful.”

After nine weeks of being walked for short periods on her lead, Mollie was finally allowed to roam free and Michele says she was “like a puppy again.”

Elle a ajouté: “Mollie’s recovery has been amazing. She initially was on so much medication that I had to track the dosage and timings all on a spreadsheet but she never fussed once about taking it.

“She was a little star. We also followed the vet’s instructions to the letter. She is now having regular check-ups but is doing so well. It’s like having the old Mollie back.”