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9 March 2019, 15:50 | Updated: 9 March 2019, 15:58
Hungarian Vizsla Gilbert has undergone a whopping £23,000 worth of treatment just so he can walk again
Crufts is well known for its ‘Best in Show’ prize, but this year a disabled dog has stolen the limelight from his pedigree pals.
Hungarian Vizsla Gilbert was accidentally trodden on as a puppy leaving him with a curved spine and muscle wastage to the back legs, but just days ago he took his first steps without a wheelchair – and was smothered with love at this year’s world famous dog competition.
Owners Kevin Bircumshaw, 61, and wife Jane, 57, said it was a truly special moment for them, one which followed a tough year of operations and fundraising.
Kevin said: “We normally video everything he does for his Facebook page but the camera was shaking so much, it was just such an emotional moment for us, there were plenty of tears.”
Bournemouth-based Kevin and Jane first took Gilbert in last year and have since worked tirelessly to help him deal with his heartbreaking injuries.
After failing to find a company that would insure the poorly pup, the couple put out a call for donations and were delighted to raise enough money so that Gilbert could undergo £23,000 worth of treatment.
“He’s always going to need the wheelchair for walking around outside, he’s never going to do that on his own but we’re confident he’ll be able to walk round the house and live a normal life within home,” explained Kevin.
“It makes all the difficult days worth it,” he added.
And despite not being able to compete himself, Gilbert received a heroes welcome earlier this week at the prestigious dog show.
“Crufts is a celebration of all dogs, not just champions and he sees all the other dogs here and thinks he’s just like them.
“Thousands of people have donated money to help him get as far as he is, it’s just nice that they can meet him.
“It’s been lovely to see people fall in love with him just like we did.”
Not only has Gilbert already undergone two major operations and hydrotherapy treatment, which costs £1000 a month, but he still needs stem cell therapy and ongoing massage therapy to help with his bones and muscles.
Jane, added: “He’s a fighter and he’s fought all the way, so watch this space.
“We couldn’t put something down that we’d fallen in love with.”