Brave Gus back on duty for owner Emma

Our emergency vets and vet nurses have been hailed as heroes for saving the life of a guide dog who collapsed after a day in the garden.

Blind teacher Emma McCrossan feared she would lose her beloved black Labrador Gus when his temperature soared to 44C.

Emma, 40, who runs a special needs service at a Bedfordshire secondary school, said it would have been a crushing blow not just to lose her closest companion, but also the independence and freedom Gus provides her with.

She heaped praise on the Vets Now staff in Doncaster who worked tirelessly to save Gus’ life and help her cope with the awful prospect of losing him.

“Losing a guide dog is like losing your best friend and your eyesight all in one blow,” Emma said. “So when we were told that Gus might not be OK it was like saying: ‘Your world is about to end’.”

Gus was taken ill when Emma was visiting friends in Doncaster for the weekend. After a relaxing day in the garden, events took a dramatic turn when he suddenly became seriously ill.

Emma said: “Gus was fine all day, in and out of the garden, then out of nowhere, on the Saturday evening, he became very ill. He stood up and was sick and was shaking and clearly very distressed.

“My friend Tessa contacted Vets Now and then we had a horrendous car journey to the clinic. When we arrived the staff had to come and get him out of the car as I couldn’t get him off my lap — he was not in a good way.”

An image of Gus the guide dog with his owner Emma, for Vets Now article on dog overheating
Gus spent five days at the vets, under close observation, and it was another a week and a half before he was given the all-clear to return to his duties as Emma’s guide dog

On arrival at the clinic, Gus was overheating to dangerous levels. and our vets and vet nurses worked tirelessly to cool him down.

“The staff were brilliant from the moment we got there,” Emma said. “They got to work straight away. I asked if it might be fatal and they said it was very serious because he was so unwell and his temperature had shot up — I think it got up to 44C — and I have since been told that dogs die at that temperature.

“I was at the vets for a couple of hours and they were incredible, including the receptionist who was bringing us cups of tea and tissues as I was in a bit of a state. I think it was very much touch and go about whether Gus would survive. I remember phoning at 4am to see how he was because I couldn’t sleep.

“My last dog, Isaac, had to retire urgently and I had to use a white stick until I got Gus and I didn’t want to go through that again.”

"I was at the vets for a couple of hours and they were incredible, including the receptionist who was bringing us cups of tea and tissues as I was in a bit of a state."

Emma McCrossan Gus' owner

Gus spent five days at the vets, under close observation, and it was another a week and a half before he was given the all-clear to return to his duties as Emma’s guide dog.

That meant that Emma, who has a genetic degenerative eye condition called Dominant Optic Atrophy, had to go back to using a white stick for more than two weeks.

Emma, who is married to Simon and lives in Bedford, has been registered blind since 2008 and says that the support of Gus and Isaac before him has been “life-changing”. Last year she ran the London Marathon to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Laura Playforth, head of veterinary standards at Vets Now, said: “Gus was in a critical condition when he was rushed into the clinic so our vets and vet nurses had to act fast to bring down his temperature and stabilise him.

“His case demonstrates just how important it is for pets to receive urgent treatment if they’re displaying any signs of heat stroke or poisoning. It’s great to hear Gus is back to full strength as he was a fantastic dog and a star patient.”

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Andrew Dodgson, head of mobility services for Guide Dogs in Herts, Beds and Essex, also praised Vets Now for the help staff had given Gus: “A guide dog is not only a visually impaired person’s best friend, they are the key to their independence and freedom. We are grateful to the hard-working vets and staff who nursed Gus back to health.”

The Vets Now clinic in Doncaster — where Gus received treatment — was recently rated as “outstanding” in the delivery of emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

It’s one of 60 Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s premises have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.