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Saturday 30 August 2014

'I would have had to pay thousands for boxer's heart defect'

Published 06/06/2014 | 02:30

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Maria O'Rourke with her three dogs, Jez, Henry and Alfie at home in Shankill. Photo: Ronan Lang

Dog lover Maria O'Rourke was worried when her three-year-old boxer Becky suddenly became really lethargic and came close to fainting if she exerted herself at all.

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Maria immediately brought her to the vet and her worst fears were confirmed when the vet sent her to a heart specialist the same day. Becky was diagnosed with distal cardio myopathy, a serious heart condition which affects some boxers.

Becky required X-rays and an ECG and would need to take expensive medication for the rest of her life. The only good news was that all her treatment was covered by the insurance policy Maria had been paying for since she was a puppy. "The treatment would have cost thousands and I paid very little towards it," Maria says.

"I took it out when she was only a puppy because I didn't insure Cooper (Maria's other boxer) and he had a lot of eye operations and I had to pay for those. If I hadn't had the insurance, I might have had to have her put down."

Becky survived another 18 months with specialist medication but sadly, her weak heart was not able to cope any longer. During that time, Maria allowed her to play and run about every now and again, even though she knew the medical advice was to keep her as quiet as possible. "I decided it was better to let her have a good life for six months, rather than wrap her up in cotton wool for six years."

Maria believes insurance is well worth it and found out the hard way last year when her Fox Terrier Jez needed an eye operation for an infection. Maria had let her insurance lapse and ended up forking out over €600. Today, she has cover for all three of her canine pals – Jez, Alfie (a Boston terrier) and Henry (a schnauzer).

Irish Independent

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