When you think of a puppy, you think of a ball of energy. Always on the go, non-stop energy and always wanting to play.
But for one seven-month-old pup, it’s a completely different story.
Life is not normal for Cane Corso-cross (an Italian breed of Mastiff) Leia. She has hip dysplasia so can’t live a life like a normal puppy would.
She is limited to a 20-minute walk per day, she can’t be let off the lead, she can’t run, and she certainly can’t play with other dogs, everything a puppy should be able to do.
With such a severe case of hip dysplasia, life is hard for this young dog, although her owner, Mike Jupp, from Littlehampton, Sussex, is determined to make her as happy and comfortable as she can be.
She’s currently on medication to help ease her symptoms, but after taking Leia to the vet, and then two others for a second opinion, Mike is now raising money for vital treatment, which could include an operation, and possibly a full hip replacement.
To find out more about this adorable pup’s condition, Team Dogs spoke to her worried owner Mike.
It is clear that even after having Leia for just over three months, she is a massive part of his life with the pair sharing an incredible bond.
She was the runt of the litter, one of the reasons why this adorable dog stole his heart.
Mike said: “Her personality was very relaxed and chilled, but that was due to lack of nutrition.
“So once we got her diet right, she is literally a ball of energy, but she’s very barky at the moment and I think that’s mainly due to the pain.”
After noticing Leia whinging whenever she went into a sit position or laying a certain way, Mike took his furbaby to the vets, only to be told it was due to a muscle issue.
But after noticing the pain getting worse, he visited the vets once again where it was discovered she had hip dysplasia.
Unfortunately, Mike was only in the first 14 days of his insurance plan for Leia so was told that she wouldn’t be covered.
The worried owner is now waiting for Leia’s consultation, but has been told she would need a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO), depending on how far along Leia is with her condition.
“If we’ve missed that window then we’re going to have to wait for her to be older to have a full hip replacement,” said Mike.
“I questioned about hydrotherapy, they said you can have hydrotherapy, but that’s not gonna be a long-term fix, eventually she’s going to need a full hip replacement.”
Mike added: “To quote them, it’s the worst case of hip dysplasia they’ve seen in a puppy her age.”
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that is passed on from a puppy’s parents. It can be avoided if mum and dad are given a hip score before breeding, although this is not legally required.
Despite this, Mike initially blamed himself for Leia’s condition.
He said: “I love Leia to bits, like I want her to have whatever, like whatever we can do to get her better we’ll get her.
“When I first got a diagnosis, I automatically blamed myself because I felt I did something wrong.
“Like when it came to the stairs, I wouldn’t allow her to walk upstairs. I’d pick her up…I was just racking my brains and stuff… there was a lot of guilt on my part.”
But this devoted owner is doing all he can to ensure his precious pup gets to lead a happy and healthy life.
Mike added: “It breaks my heart. At the moment she can’t be full, I mean, just to be free and have fun, it’s heartbreaking.”
“When she’s on medication, she is absolutely fine, but when she’s not on the medication, you can tell, like when I wake up in the morning, like before we give breakfast and stuff, she’s whimpering and all that stuff and it’s horrible to see.
“I’m trying my utmost to make sure that she’s happy as she can be.”
To help boost funds and to thank the kind people who have donated to Leia’s cause, Mike has committed to running a mile for every £500 raised, and all while dressed as Chase from Paw Patrol.
Touched by the support, Mike said: “It’s humbling and emotional in the same breath.
“I can’t explain how grateful I am for this because, obviously, if these people didn’t help then I don’t want to think what the alternative could be.
“Even with her health issues, I love her to bits. It’s overwhelming to be honest with you. And I don’t really know how to process it properly.”
To donate to Leia’s GoFundMe, visit https://uk.gofundme.com/f/2e8xe9viq0.