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Billy is back on his feet!

Chocolate Labradoodle Billy is back on his feet after months of care from specialist vets in Cheshire following a freak fall which left him almost paralysed.

Having fallen off his owner’s bed early one morning, sustaining serious spinal cord injuries that caused him to lose the ability to use his legs, his owner Debbie Antrobus rushed him to Willows Veterinary Hospital in Hartford, Northwich, where the veterinary team swiftly called on colleagues at Oakwood Veterinary Referrals, who share the hospital’s facilities and are skilled in areas such as neurology and orthopaedics.

Orthopaedic and spinal surgery specialist Charlie Sale assessed Billy and x-rayed his neck to ensure it wasn’t fractured. He was then closely monitored but, although his breathing settled within 36 hours, his condition remained unchanged. 

An MRI scan revealed severe injuries to his spinal cord and a ruptured disc which was adding further pressure to his spine. Debbie agreed to spinal surgery, which meant Charlie was able to remove the ruptured disc material and ease the compression on Billy’s spinal cord during the complex operation.


Billy with owner Debbie Antrobus and vet Charlie Sale at Oakwood Veterinary Referrals.


He received round-the-clock nursing care for the next four-and-a-half weeks before being discharged for more rest at home, supported by further physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

The six-and-a-half-year-old slowly regained the ability to stand unaided and steadily progressed to doing a shuffle and then a gentle walk. He is now even able to run.

Charlie, who has more than 25 years of experience in orthopaedic and spinal referrals, said: “We don’t see many patients with such severe injuries as Billy’s. Our prognosis was that there was a chance he could recover to be able to walk but that it could be a slow process.

“After his surgery, he required very intense nursing as he had to be moved every few hours and we were doing different physiotherapy from the start. He slowly improved and has been able to recover through a combination of our veterinary care, his own ability and a massive effort from his owner.

“Billy has now regained a good quality of life. His recovery means a lot to the whole team and is rewarding for everyone involved in caring for him.”

Owner Debbie, who adopted Billy when he was 10 months old, said it had been a long journey since his fall in June 2023 and praised the whole veterinary team for their care. “Billy must have been dreaming and just crashed off the bed,” she said. “He landed on the floor with the loudest bang. He was then in the vets for five weeks and unable to walk for seven weeks.

“The treatment has been amazing ... I went from thinking I had lost him to bringing him home. It is amazing progress. He has got stronger and can do a little bit of a plod now. I owe so much to everyone at Willows and Oakwood Vets – Charlie, his team of nurses, reception and office staff who cared so much for Billy and looked after me when I visited him every day.

“My family and friends helped me over the first month of having him home and the team at Cheshire Canine Hydrotherapy Centre and Stay Sound Veterinary Physiotherapy Services have helped me carry on with his ongoing recovery.”


Charlie Sale, right, and members of the veterinary team who cared for Billy, centre.

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