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An elderly dog who was ‘spooked’ and jumped off a narrowboat at the exact same spot where her owner’s brother drowned as a child is recovering well after getting her leg mangled in a propeller.

Tasha, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu, has been able to enjoy a daily walk again, thanks to vet Eandil Maddock at Oakwood Vet Referrals, Hartford, near Northwich. Tasha sustained severe injuries, including multiple fractures, after she unexpectedly bolted past owners Margaret and Craig Dawson and leapt into the canal. Lucky the couple, who were enjoying a family trip, cut the engine as 71-year-old Craig jumped in to rescue his pet.

Vet Eandil Maddock is pictured with Tasha’s owners Margaret and Craig Dawson and Tasha
Vet Eandil Maddock is pictured with Tasha’s owners Margaret and Craig Dawson and Tasha

The location of the incident was also the same place where Craig witnessed his eight-year-old brother, Stephen, drown at the age of five.

Margaret says Tasha’s actions were “completely out of character” and she normally avoids water. Reliving the ordeal, she said, “We were on a narrowboat trip on Macclesfield Canal with some members of our family and had been on the canal for about four hours.

“Tasha had been down at the bottom of the boat, but as we were on our way back after a lovely day, something seemed to go wrong in her head and she flew up the steps, ran past Craig and I and just jumped off the side of the boat.

“My youngest son tried to grab her from the water but the propeller must’ve pulled her down. It all happened so fast and my husband jumped in after her as she started swimming to the side towards the embankment at Buglawton Bridge near Congleton. He grabbed her and she was screaming and howling in pain. We wrapped her in a towel and called the vets.”

Tasha’s X-ray is pictured. A plate and screws were used to fix her multiple fractures
Tasha’s X-ray is pictured. A plate and screws were used to fix her multiple fractures

Tasha faced having her leg amputated due to the severity of her injuries but after being referred to Oakwood Referrals, part of Willows Veterinary Group, for treatment, she is recovering with all four limbs intact.

Margaret continued, “We don’t know if something spooked her, and even though she’d never been on a narrowboat before, she’d been fine during the four hours of our trip up until that point.

“The strange thing was, it happened at the exact same spot where Craig witnessed his eight-year-old brother Stephen drown after he’d gone into the water after a ball. It was quite spooky. I don’t know whether or not she sensed something but it is a very strange coincidence.”

Tasha is pictured with vet Eandil Maddock of Oakwood Vet Referrals, part of Willows Veterinary Group
Tasha is pictured with vet Eandil Maddock of Oakwood Vet Referrals, part of Willows Veterinary Group

Tasha was adopted by Margaret and Craig at the age of four and are her fourth owners. Margaret adds, “We were so grateful to them because they were so kind and could see how shocked and worried we were. They bent over backwards to see Tasha straight away and then set to work helping her. It was such a relief after what had happened.”

Eandil Maddock, an advanced practitioner in orthopaedic and spinal surgery, used a pin, a plate and screws to fix the bones back in to place. Eandil said, “When Tasha was brought in as an emergency case, she had a severely bruised and unstable front limb and had sustained multiple fractures.

“During surgery I used a plate and screws to stabilise the radius and a pin to fix the ulna. Tasha’s leg was very severely bruised and with that degree of trauma, she was very lucky she didn’t suffer more serious soft tissue damage. The worst case scenario would’ve been an amputation, which for a 14-year-old dog is a substantial thing to consider and could’ve led to her having to be put to sleep.

When I saw her for a recent check up, she was doing well but still quite lame. X-rays showed good healing so I removed the pin which was causing a little discomfort at her wrist. Since then she has made excellent progress. She still has the plate and screws in place and walks with only a mild limp now. I am delighted with the way she’s improving and her owners are building up her exercise gradually to get her back to normal.”

Tasha is back enjoying her walks now thanks to vet Eandil Maddock of Oakwood Vet Referrals, part of Willows Veterinary Group
Tasha is back enjoying her walks now thanks to vet Eandil Maddock of Oakwood Vet Referrals, part of Willows Veterinary Group

Margaret added: “Eandil has done a wonderful job saving and fixing Tasha’s leg because it was very touch and go. He is a lovely man who has kept in touch with us to see how she’s doing after her operation, and thanks to him, Tasha is recovering remarkably.

We’ve been keeping a close eye on her restricting her on chairs and making sure she doesn’t jump off the stairs. She’s done wonderfully, she’s 14 but she just copes with it, I think she’s got used to the attention now. She certainly won’t be going on any more narrowboat trips that’s for sure.” 

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