Pelle, now one, was diagnosed with an intrahepatic portosystemic liver shunt, where a blood vessel in the liver diverts the blood flow incorrectly, when he was just three months’ old.
“Pelle was pretty bad already when we got him. He had a lot of vomiting and diaorrhea, he drank a lot of water, and sometimes he had small attacks, so we quickly figured out that everything was not as it should be,” Cathrine Sørlie (31), the dog’s mistress, told VG.
However, when she and her partner Nils Christian Nordahl (32), took him to their local vet in Oslo they were told that there was no one in Norway who could do the operation to correct the congenital disorder.
The vet recommended putting the dog to sleep if the condition worsened.
“We were distraught by the news. Pelle is part of our family and we weren’t willing to give up on him just yet,” Sørlie said in a statement.
First they tracked down a vet in neighbouring Sweden who said he was ready and willing to do the operation, which is minimally invasive but involves complicated equipment.
But before their appointment, the vet stopped doing the procedure.
Luckily a friend in the UK heard about their predicament and tracked down a clinic, Highcroft Veterinary Referrals in Bristol, which could do the operation.
This summer, the couple packed Pelle into the back of their car for the long drive through Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France to the UK.
The three-hour operation involved the vet Kieren Borgeat using tiny catheters and tubes to penetrate the small blood vessels in the dog’s liver, while he looked on using live x-rays.
It cost £3,500 for the operation alone.
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“In addition, the actual journey cost a fair bit. It was both expensive and time consuming. But I have no regrets. We would definitely do it again,” Sørlie said.
The couple still do not know for sure if the operation has been a success.
“Then we should take blood samples and check that everything is as it should be. It is very exciting. But I have faith, I’ve noticed that he’s different,” Sørlie told the newspaper optimistically.
“Had we not found Kieran and Highcroft, Pelle would not have survived,” she said in her statement. “Now we look forward to many happy and healthy years with our lovely, happy dog!”