£8,000 facelift saves dog’s eyesight

Junior the bloodhound, from Selby, after his �8,000 facelift to save his sight. Junior lives with owners Denise and David Smart.
Junior the bloodhound, from Selby, after his �8,000 facelift to save his sight. Junior lives with owners Denise and David Smart.

A DOG-loving couple have told how they saved their bloodhound dog from going blind – with an £8,000 facelift.

Cute Junior’s rare skin disorder meant he had not grown into his skin properly and the weight of the excess flesh above his face had caused it to fold and cover his eyes.

So concerned owners Denise and David Smart, of Selby took him for the operation and Junior is now a picture of pedigree health.

The couple told how they repeatedly took their five-year-old pooch to the vet where he at first had an eyelash removed.

But his condition did not improve and he began suffering from a problem called entropion which could have led to Junior – the offspring of a Crufts champion – permanently losing his sight.

Vets then suggested they take Junior to a specialist vet named Gary Lewin, and he performed the challenging and delicate facelift – which he later described as the most difficult he’d ever done – during a three-hour operation.

Junior’s excess skin was removed allowing him to see clearly – and the happy animal-loving couple say their pet has been given a new lease of life, mischievously stealing items such as mobile phones, computer mice and cameras.

Parental support advisor Denise, 49, said: “We got him when he was just a pup and noticed he seemed to be in a lot of pain in his early life. He could hardly see and he used to get grumpy as a result.

“We have four other dogs and he was really twitchy with the others when they came up behind him.

“We took him to the vets and he had an eyelash removed because they thought that might have been scraping against his eye, but it didn’t make much difference.

“Then they thought one of his eyelashes was too big and they tried working on that, but that didn’t solve the problem either.

“When he became fully grown us and the vets realised he had just not grown into his skin. It was just a freak quirk of fate, and the vet said he’s never seen a case of this with a bloodhound.”

Junior, whose father Fortitude was winner of Best in Breed at Crufts 2009, was referred to a consultation with Gary, who is based near Penrith in Cumbria.

Sales manager David, 42, said: “Gary said he’d done the same for about 500 spaniels, but the weight and volume on Junior’s head made it the most difficult operation to do. It took three hours but it was worth it.

“He’s a lot less grumpy and aggressive now. He can still be nervous, but he’s a lot happier with life.

“Bloodhounds are very mischievous and are notorious for stealing things, and now Junior’s sight is restored he’s certainly living up to that reputation.

“We’ve had cordless phones, mobile phones, cameras, remote controls, spectacles and computer mice go missing since the operation and we normally find them chewed up in the garden. It’s great that he is full of life again.”

The couple, who have no children, were covered by their Petplan insurance policy.

In honour of their love of man’s best friend, the pair have named their home ‘The Dog House’ and as well as Junior have bloodhounds Jasper and Judge, and basset hounds Johnson and Jed.