A dog owner has launched an appeal to raise £2,300 to pay for heart treatment for the pet which is helping her deal with the death of her brother.
Linda Stubbs was bought the shih tzu – and named him Dusty, the nickname of her brother Paul, 57, who died in June from lung cancer.
Dad-of-two Paul was a steward at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park ground and was the partner of Janice Dunn.
His coffin was draped in the club flag at his funeral, where his friends turned out in their Pools strip as a show of support.
Linda’s daughter gave her the pet in the hope he would help her deal with her grief and depression, but she has now been dealt a second blow after discovering he has a heart murmur, which means he may need a heart bypass operation.
Linda, who also suffers from a series of health concerns, is campaigning to raise at least £2,300, the minimum amount she expects treatment to cost if vets say he needs the op, which is not covered by insurance.
Donors have already seen the fund reach £380 within days of its launch.
The 54-year-old said: “I’ve had a lot of trouble with really bad depression and so my daughter got me the dog and I named him after my brother’s nickname.
“It was like therapy for me, but now I’m worried now that we’ve found out about this. It’s like I’m able to look after my brother through him.
“His illness was very short and it was such a shock.
“Dusty’s a lively dog, he’s usually running around. But he could need this heart bypass.
“He’s seven months old and we’ve had him since he was a puppy.
“I took him to the PDSA vets and he had a scan and they found the murmur because a hole hasn’t closed up, and sometimes they can grow out of it, but they could see his heart beat was irregular.
Linda, who is mum to Holly Lee Rendall, 22, who bought her Dusty, Lisa Brown, 34, and Amanda Stubbs, 37, who has learning disabilities, moved to South Shields from her home town of Hartlepool.
Linda’s online plea says: “He is an adorable puppy and he deserves a chance at life. “His health will deteriorate fast without this operation.
“He has become my best friend, hope my friends can help as I don’t know what I’d do without him now.”
Donations can be made via https://www.gofundme.com/v7whypph