An animal-lover adopted 27 sickly and disabled dogs when no one else wanted them.Claire-Louise Nixon, 48, takes in injured dogs, many of whom are paralysed, have been abused or have lost limbs from mines and explosives in war zones.
She is regularly told by vets that there is no chance whatsoever of getting them walking again, but continues to shock professionals by working ‘miracles’.All 27 dogs are named after famous people, with Claire selecting them based on each dog’s unique personality and experience.
One pup rescued from Romania is called Sir Elton John after he was ran over and left on the road to die, leaving him with a broken spine. Thanks to Claire, he can now go on small walks and was named after the British musician because of his song I’m Still Standing. Another street dog called Sherlock Holmes gained his name due to his intelligence and curiosity after being shot by a security guard in Oman.
Elton and Sherlock are joined by Patrick Swayze who twitches all the time, formerly paralysed Freddie Mercury who wanted to ‘break free’ and David Bowie who was ‘under pressure.’
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No matter what the dog’s condition, Claire is determined to get them back on their feet and puts them through physio sessions and walks on wheels.
She said: ‘When I get these dogs who are in such a bad way, the vet would say: “Claire, you won’t get them walking again”.
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‘But now they say “nothing is impossible!” They say we work miracles with them!
‘I think all they need is love, kindness and patience. When they walk into my house they see other dogs like them so they don’t feel any different that’s why I think they do so well here.
‘If you give them a reason to walk again then they will.’
Her mission began 12 years ago when a puppy who was a few days old was brought to the vets to be put down, with a hair lip and cleft palate preventing him from suckling milk.
Claire hand-reared the pup, named Thomas Cook, but never imagined that taking care of him would lead to having a home filled with 27 sickly dogs.
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She always tries to find another owner for them at first, but often their needs are too complex, with some even having to wear nappies.
Looking after her brood is a full-time job, with feeding time, exercise, doggy hydrotherapy and daily baths to keep them infection-free regularly taking from 6am until midnight.
However, the dog-lover, who lives in Milton Keynes with her husband Gary, 50 and daughter Rhia-Louise, 22, says they’re now all ‘part of the family’.
She said: ‘They’re part of the family. The dogs have a free run of the house. They sit where they want and they sleep wherever they happen to fall asleep – often on our beds.
‘The dogs arrive with the most horrible past we give them love and wonderful future. They come from all over the world but with me they are home forever.
‘I’m really lucky in that all the neighbours have dogs themselves so we don’t get complaints. And although 27 dogs sounds a lot, they are really quite well behaved.’
Claire raises funds through her organisation Wheels to Paws UK to provide the dogs with the medical treatment, rehabilitation and equipment they need to walk again.
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While she gets a discount from sympathetic vets, the bills are still expensive – but Claire says her dogs are worth every penny.
She said: ‘The dog rescue charities abroad all know of me. So if they get a badly injured or disabled dog in need of specialist care they will pay to transport them to me in the UK. I can never say no.
‘It is tremendous hard work but I can’t tell you how rewarding it is. The love these dogs give back is amazing. I would not be without any single one of them.’