Remember Flora the Jack Russell who was found wandering the streets of Ipswich with a football-sized tumour protruding from her side?
Since that fateful day back in March, the eight-year-old has recovered and has found a loving home to spend this Christmas. Flora will also be a comfort to her new owner, widower Michael Elliston, who lost his wife in March 2016 following a long battle with MS. Then just five months later, their rescue dog Molly passed away.
Mr Elliston, from Manningtree, Essex, says, "Flora’s brought me companionship and some joy back into my life. It was a double blow, losing Molly. She had been a big part of our lives. I was obviously feeling quite lonely and lost, but I couldn’t bring myself to get another pet straight away."
Retired Mr Elliston said he fell in love instantly with Flora when he saw her on the Blue Cross website and heard her story.
When Flora was brought to Blue Cross Suffolk she could barely walk. As well as the tumour, her fur was badly matted and she had a chain of masses on her belly, the result of not being netuered. Fortunately, Flora's tumour was discovered to be non-cancerous fatty tissue and was removed by Blue Cross vets.
Kristina Dimitrova, Animal Welfare Supervisor at Blue Cross Suffolk, said, "When she initially arrived some of the fur around her long nails was so badly matted that it was quite painful for her to have it untangled. She also needed five dental extractions and treatment, and had a chain of mammary masses.
"There was also the massive lump that was actually bigger than her head. Luckily when vets at Victoria opened her up it did seem to be just a huge fatty lump. Some of it was closely attached to her ribs, but the vets did an amazing job as they managed to remove all of it. They had to place a drain there and she had quite a few stitches as the wound was so big. But despite everything she went through, Flora was always friendly with everyone and wagging her tail constantly."
Flora requires daily painkillers for a joint problem and will need further surgery to remove the remaining mammary masses, but now she's back on her paws and rarely away from her new owner's side.
Says Mr Elliston, "What she went through before made me feel very sorry for her. When I was told about all her health problems I just said that it didn’t really matter; the main thing was to give her a nice home for the rest of her life. You can overcome the medical problems.
"Recently I’ve been doing a lot of work in the garden so sometimes we spend all day out in there together and she follows me around and helps me with digging in the vegetable patch.
"She’ll come and sit down right in front of me. She follows me around when I’m doing housework and sits in front of the vacuum and so on."
Flora’s toy Teddy was given to her by Blue Cross to help her feel more confident and she doesn’t leave the house without him.
"She takes him on the walk and runs along with him in her mouth. Sometimes we’re walking along and she stops and looks at me, and I say: ‘Do you want little Ted?’ And she jumps up and takes him and carries on with her walk.
"She’s brought so much to my life. I’m smiling and laughing all day long, really, because she’s a real little character. She is a tinker."