Former guide dog puppy who battled back from serious illness is put to sleep


A former guide dog trainee puppy who touched the hearts of people throughout Kirkcaldy and further afield has had to be put to sleep.

Betsy was training to become a guide dog with puppy walkers Joyce and Diane Hankin when she took ill and it was discovered she had a serious liver condition she had had from birth.

The couple with Betsy after her lifesaving operation

The couple with Betsy after her lifesaving operation

After undergoing major surgery, paid for by Guide Dogs for the Blind, she recovered and began a new life with the Hankins who live on Dunnikier Estate in the town.

The couple organised a huge fundraising event and took part in other sponsored events to repay the charity for its kindness, with friends and family rallying round to help.

However this week after she became poorly they were shocked to be told she had an aggressive form of cancer in her lymph nodes and had to be euthanised yesterday (Wednesday).

Speaking to the Press, Joyce and Diane said they were devastated at losing Betsy.

We couldn’t believe it, as at the weekend she had been fine and running around.

“It all happened so quickly and unlike last time, when she was ill and we were warned to prepare for the worst, this time we just thought she had picked up an infection and would be better in a few days,” said Diane.

At just 16 weeks old Betsy was taken to a specialist hospital, the Willow Centre in Coventry where she was operated on for a liver shunt which meant that her liver didn’t function properly and she was being poisoned by toxins in her body.

The operation was successful and, after a period of recuperation when she stayed with a foster family down south, she was returned to Joyce and Diane who decided to adopt her as their own because she could no longer be considered to become a guide dog.

However at the weekend Betsy lost her appetite and was being sick and Joyce and Diane decided to take her to the vets at St Clair Veterinary Practice who gave her an antibiotic injection and tablets and took blood tests.

Within an hour the vet got back in touch and asked them to take Betsy back in as her liver enzyme count was really high.

It continued to rise and after conferring with the Guide Dogs charity, they took her across to the Dick Veterinary School in Edinburgh on Monday and on Tuesday received a call to say they had carried out a scan which showed there was a problem with her lymph nodes and her liver was enlarged.

“They told us she had an aggressive lymphoma cancer of the blood which had affected her lymph nodes and she had a mass on her chest which was causing her to pant.

“We couldn’t believe it, as at the weekend she had been fine and running around. It was completely out of the blue and we were devastated,” said Diane.

The couple travelled across to Edinburgh to say their goodbyes and Betsy was delighted to see them, bringing her toy teddy for them to play.

“It was awful saying goodbye to her, but at least she did not suffer, Our other dogs Faith and Petal are really missing her.”

“She went through so much when she was just little and after she recovered from that we were delighted. It just doesn’t seem fair that she then got this terrible disease which affected her so quickly,” added Joyce.

“We just wanted to let everyone who helped us before and helped us to raise the money to repay the charity, and who always asked how she was doing, know what had happened and to thank every one of them for their kindness.

“We are glad we got to spend the time we had with Betsy, and she will always be in our hearts.”