Rescue dog Tucker reunited with poorly pooch he saved with blood transfusion

A rescue dog and the poorly pooch he helped save with a Christmas Eve emergency blood transfusion have held a touching reunion.

Tucker, the greyhound has been hailed a hero after he became a live donor for pet spaniel Ivy-Blu in a life-saving operation.

Now the doggie duo have been reunited at Cheshire Dogs Home along with Ivy-Blu owner Shelley Cleaveley and Tucker’s new owner Matthew Jackson, who had no idea his new canine companion had been involved in the medical drama when he chose him.

Tucker, a retired racer, had been drafted in from Cheshire Dogs’ Home after an urgent call from Beech House Veterinary Centre in Warrington.

Vet surgeon Kaitlin Turnbull, who has worked at the practice – run by Willows Veterinary Group – for 18 months, said it was a miracle that Ivy-Blu survived.

The four-and-a-half-year-old was at death’s door after being diagnosed with severe anaemia that was causing her body to attack its own blood cells.

Her heartbroken owner, Shelley Cleaveley, admitted she and her family were preparing themselves for the worst.

The 48-year-old mum-of-two from Paddington, Warrington, said: “Just before Christmas, we noticed something wasn’t quite right with Ivy.

“She wasn’t coming to us for food and wasn’t her normal happy-go-lucky self so we took her to the vet thinking she had a bug.

“The vet did some tests on her and discovered she had anaemia.

“She was put on medication but a few days later she just went further downhill.

“She was really poorly, her tongue and gums were almost white so she was kept in for further observations.

“In the run up to Christmas, we just kept getting phone calls telling us her condition was worsening, we were heartbroken thinking we were going to lose her.

“Then on Christmas Eve, we were told her condition was critical and that she needed a blood transfusion.”

Shelley assumed the blood would come from a blood bank, but only by a strange coincidence did she discover from her neighbour, who works at Cheshire Dogs’ Home, that long-term resident Tucker had gone into Beech House to be a live donor.

It was the first time veterinary surgeon, Kaitlin Turnbull had carried out the procedure and she praised Tucker for taking his place as a fellow key worker over the festivities.

She said: “Ivy presented really lethargic, she was off her food and she had a temperature.

“When we ran her blood tests to investigate, we discovered she was critically ill.

“Her blood count was 12 when ideally we’d like levels to be over 35.

“If a number is below 15, we strongly start to consider a blood transfusion.”

Kaitlin said further tests allowed her to diagnose Ivy-Blu with a condition called immune mediated anaemia, which causes the body to attack red blood cells because it develops antibodies to them.

An emergency call was made to Cheshire Dogs’ Home to see if any of its residents could step in and retired racer Tucker was called into action.

The blood transfusion involved taking 400ml of blood from Tucker’s neck and piping it slowly into Ivy-Blu while making sure she didn’t have any reactions.

Afterwards Tucker was given a bowl of food for his life-saving efforts.

Meanwhile Ivy-Blu was given medication to help with her recovery and now staff at Beech House are delighted with her progress.

Kaitlin said: “I’ve been seeing Ivy-Blu for check ups ever since she was discharged and she’s doing brilliantly, her blood levels have all been remaining stable and we’re hoping to wean her off medication gradually.

“It’s a miracle she is still here.

“Tucker was definitely a key worker on Christmas Eve, he’s a superstar.”

Ivy-Blu’s owner, Shelley added: “I was amazed to hear how Tucker had given blood and saved Ivy’s life.

“She’s a lovely posh pooch and as Ivy had spent Christmas at a specialist hospital recovering, we gave some of her Christmas presents to Tucker.

“We were absolutely over the moon that he made such a big difference to her prognosis, especially considering how poorly she was, he was a real Christmas hero.”

Shelley, who works as a mobile hairdresser said Ivy-Blu is now on the road to recovery.

“She’s eating and getting back to her old self, which is great to see.

“She’s been through so much, you don’t realise, I didn’t know dogs could give blood, this whole ordeal has opened my eyes to see how special it is.

“We were lucky to get that, very lucky, especially this time of year.

“We can’t thank Tucker, Beech House and Cheshire Dogs’ Home enough.

“Without such great vets and animal rescue staff, what would we do?”

And it seems that five-year-old Tucker has been rewarded for his good deed by finally finding a forever family after being one of the home’s longest-staying residents.

New owner Matthew, from Failsworth, said: “We were in rented accommodation and had wanted a dog for ages so when we moved into our new home my wife, Carley, showed me a photo of Tucker and we went to see him and fell in love with him.

“They thought he might be a bit of a handful but he’s great although we didn’t realise at the time that he was also a hero.

“We’re delighted that he could meet up with Ivy-Blu. It’s such a lovely story.”

Anna Stansfield, manager at Cheshire Dogs’ Home, said: “This is a wonderful story and we’re so glad that our beautiful boy, Tucker, was able to play his part in saving Ivy’s life.

“To us, all dogs are special and Tucker is just one example of the many wonderful dogs that come through our doors.

“He was happily re-homed last week and we were able to tell his new family just what a special boy he is.”

Willows Veterinary Group, part of VetPartners, offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise through a network of 23 small animal practices, a referral veterinary hospital, an equine hospital and a farm practice, located across Cheshire and into Greater Manchester, North Wales, the Wirral and Staffordshire. Willows is accredited by The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

For more information about Willows Veterinary Group, go to or Facebook @WillowsVetGroup.

Anyone interested in adopting a dog from Cheshire Dogs’ Home can visit the website Viewings are by appointment only.

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