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Monday, November 28, 2005

Second chance for wonder dog

By MICHAEL CUMMINGS, http://www.stuff.co.nz

A dog that pulled its owner from a car wreck eight years ago is now at the centre of another amazing rescue.

Wanganui woman Melanie Donne would have been killed if her german shepherd, Nikki, hadn't pulled her from her crumpled, smoking car after driving over a cliff in 1997.

"She is my life. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her," Ms Donne said.

"I was upside-down, trapped in my seatbelt and drenched in petrol. I looked around at Nikki and she leapt around to my side and got hold of me and got me out," she said.

This month Ms Donne was told Nikki is suffering from a rare, aggressive form of bone cancer and will be dead within months without specialist treatment.

"I was just so distraught and determined to save her," Ms Donne said.

The treatment costs more than $5000, but Ms Donne, a former primary school teacher, has been unable to work since her accident and can't foot the bill.

But after their story recently appeared in New Zealand Pet magazine, Nikki's prognosis is suddenly looking a lot brighter. Ms Donne received phone calls and donations from all over the country to help pay for Nikki's treatment, but it was one particular phone call from Auckland that moved her to tears.

An oncology vet who read the article contacted Ms Donne and offered to perform the life-saving operation for free.

The news got even better when an SPCA group offered to pay to fly her and Nikki to Auckland.

The operation is scheduled for today. "It was just unbelievable," Ms Donne said. "I want to thank all those people and get the message out there that really good people do exist.

"Everyone's been so lovely and I've had to swallow my pride because I'm not the kind of person who wants a handout." Nikki will likely have her front right leg amputated, but should live out her life pain-free.

"We've been together 10 years and she's just the most amazing dog. I don't think I've met anyone who hasn't fallen in love with her," she said.

Ms Donne hopes to set up a foundation to help pet owners in similar situations.


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