Woman Turns Her Home Into Canine Retreat For Paralysed Pooches
Twelve years ago, dog-lover Claire-Louise Nixon took in a three-week-old Cocker Spaniel puppy with a hair lip and cleft palate who was due to be put down.
The 48-year-old's residents include dogs that had their limbs torn off in war-torn areas and others that have suffered horrific cruelty.
Many of Claire-Louise's 27 dogs have to wear nappies, bodysuits and many require wheels for their daily walks.
Feeding them involves 15kg of biscuits and a whole crate of dog food every single day; they require daily baths to keep them clean and infection-free; and Claire is constantly hoovering and trying to keep on top of housework.
"They're part of the family. The dogs have a free run of the house," Claire says.
"They sit where they want and they sleep wherever they happen to fall asleep - often on our beds.
"The dogs arrive with the most horrible past and we give them love and a wonderful future. They come from all over the world, but with me they are home forever.
"I'm really lucky in that all the neighbours have dogs themselves so we don't get complaints. And although 27 dogs sounds a lot, they are really quite well behaved."
The dogs, who are also looked after by husband Gary and daughter Rhia-Louise, are regularly taken for long walks.
Some of the dogs are put in specially-made harnesses with wheels to help them, while those that can't walk around are put in buggies. The dogs are taken out on rotation in groups in order to keep it manageable.
When dogs arrive at Claire's, her main mission is to get them walking again, despite vets saying it's impossible - something she's unbelievably succeeded with in the past.
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"When I get these dogs who are in such a bad way, the vet would say: 'Claire, you won't get them walking again'," recalls Claire.
"But now they say nothing is impossible! They say we work miracles with them!
"I think all they need is love, kindness and patience. When they walk into my house they see other dogs like them so they don't feel any different, that's why I think they do so well here.
"If you give them a reason to walk again then they will."
Claire says that after she rescued Thomas Cook, she began welcoming dogs from all over the globe, with many overseas dog rescue charities contacting her for help.
"The dog rescue charities abroad all know of me. So if they get a badly injured or disabled dog in need of specialist care they will pay to transport them to me in the UK. I can never say no," says Claire.
"It went into having paralysed dogs and dogs that had their legs blown off in Bosnia and dogs that had been shot and still had bullets inside them."
Vet bills have been a huge cost for Claire, but luckily local vets have been sympathetic to her cause and often offer a discount.
All of her dogs are named after celebrities who she feels embody their personalities.
There's Sir Elton John, the recuse from Romania who is 'still standing' despite being run over and left on the road to die which left him with a broken spine.
Sherlock Holmes, an Omani street dog who was shot by a security guard and gained his name from his intelligence and curiosity, is also party of the brood.
Patrick Swayze, who twitches all the time, previously paralysed Freddie Mercury who wanted to 'break free' and David Bowie who was 'under pressure,' are also part of the squad.
Claire raises money through her organisation, Wheels to Paws UK, to provide her dogs with medical treatments, rehabilitation and the equipment they need to live full happy lives.
She said: "It is tremendous hard work but I can't tell you how rewarding it is. The love these dogs give back is amazing. I would not be without any single one of them."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS
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