Meet Chino the chihuahua - a dog with more lives than a cat and a hefty £25,000 veterinary bill for his owners

Chino the chihuahua may be a dog small in stature but his strength more than makes up for it after battling through numerous surgeries which has cost his owners £25,000.

By Emma Downey
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 4:22 pm

Chino, who celebrated his 11th birthday last week, has defied all odds by learning to walk again after becoming paralysed following an operation to his neck.

He has had a number of extensive issues over the years, leaving his owner Julie Blakeley with a hefty price tag.

Julie, 58, from Fulwood has spent over £25,000 on numerous surgeries over the years for her fur baby including two knee operations, four spinal operations, a bad virus and physio and hydrotherapy sessions.

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Thanks mum.

She said: "I am amazed at my little chihuahua. He has been through so many operations throughout his life and left paralysed and written off but we got him walking again.

"The vet did an operation in June and he started walking again but went downhill shortly afterwards."

Chino's most recent operation in July was surgery which went in through his throat where he was fitted with a false disk and screws in his spine leaving him completely paralysed and needing a lot of cage rest.

As he wasn't as good as Julie hoped she decided to start him on physiotherapy and hydrotherapy at Lancashire Vet Physio.

Julie and Chino.

"It alternates each week, once he will be doing physio, then the next time in the hydrotherapy pool.

"One morning while in the pool he just started moving one of his legs and he has took to physiotherapy as well.

Julie who works at a printers added: "I am so proud of him and the people who helped him. It just goes to show you should never give up on animals."

Vet Adam Kluczny 32, of Anrich Vets in Wigan, who has performed three out of the four surgeries on Chino, said: "Chino had really significant deficits with thoracic limbs and was severely ataxic despite of the surgeries he had.

Chino after one of his many operations.

"He has not been making much progress over the course of months, which usually means that he is likely to persist with marked ataxia (drunken sailor gait).

"However Mr and Mrs Blakeley didn't give up on Chino and worked hard with a physio and hydro with him which, after couple of months, did give excellent results which I'm very happy with."

He added: "I do think the size of a patient matters. Chihuahuas do suffer from IVDD as well as many other conditions. Surgery - stabilisation of the cervical spine is more challenging in a small breed or miniature breed.

"In a large dog I have much more bone stock to put the implants into. In Chino's case there was a very small margin of error, hence a preop CT, measurement of the angles of inserion of implants and depth helped a lot.

Down but not out.

"However physiotherapy would definitely be much easier in a miniature/small breed in comparison to a large dog.

"I personally am really happy that Mr and Mrs Blakeley did not give up on Chino and despite all of the ups and downs did work hard to get him back on his feet. It is really amazing."

Lancashire Vet Physio Tilly Wild, 25, who has been practising for nearly three years has been working with Chino since on a weekly basis since October last year.

"Chino is the first chihuahua I have treated with this range of conditions.

"Animals benefit from physiotherapy in the same way that humans do. Whether recovering from an injury, illness or simply wanting to improve fitness, condition or quality of life, physio is essential for recovery.

"Slowly over time the next step to go down to working on his progress every two weeks and then eventually down to a monthly basis."

Small in stature but large in strength.

Describing Chino as a character, she added: "He is very feisty and definitely has confidence and drive.

"When he couldn't move he became quiet and subdued, but when he got walking again he wanted to do his own thing."

Measuring in between six to nine inches in height, the chihuahua is one of the smallest breeds of dog - a reason Julie believes has blessed her beloved pooch.

"Because he is so small it has worked in his favour as even the vet said he was amazed how he'd come back from how he was."

Julie has another chihuahua in the shape of eight year old Levi who, fortunately, has never suffered any health problems.

As many people will likely question spending such a vast amount on a dog, would Julie do the same again?

"My husband Dave wanted to buy a camper van, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat."

Even though Chino still has a long road to recovery, the moral of the story, as Julie puts it is: "Don't write them off".

As the old adage goes: "It's not the size of the dog in fight, but the size of the fight in the dog".

Chino or should that be Rocky?
Chino with his eight-year-old brother Levi.