Karen Ethier, 55, found her 10-year-old mastiff and Staffordshire bull terrier cross on the street.
At the time, she said the dog, who she has named Louie, was “emaciated and covered in bruises” with his leg “hanging off”.
“He went straight to the vet for surgery,” she remembered. “They couldn’t save his leg. The vet said she had never seen so many breaks in one leg.
“It was heartbreaking to see him in that way. He was so sweet, and I fell in love with him the moment I saw him.”
Six years after she brought him home Ethier, who was working as the Animal Welfare Manager at the Bath Cats and Dogs Home at the time, recalled how Louie tried to alert her to the fact that something was wrong.
Sitting in her kitchen with a friend, Ethier explained how Louie kept “headbutting and nuzzling” her chest in the same spot.
Ethier’s friend suggested she get a check-up in case Louie was “sensing” that something was wrong with her.
When Ethier checked her left breast later that day, she found a lump in the spot where Louie had been nudging her.
She was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer shortly after when she visited her doctor.
“It was really aggressive, and I needed treatment right away,” Ethier said.
“They said the lump was too big for surgery, so I needed chemo first to reduce it.”
Ethier was treated with six months of chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove the lump in addition to lymph nodes in her left arm, as the cancer had spread there.
She was then given three weeks of radiotherapy.
“It was really scary, but I was lucky to have some great support around me,” she said, explaining how Louie was with her throughout her treatment.
“Louie is incredibly loyal, and he knew when I was feeling down or sick from treatment,” she added. “He was by my side the entire time.”
Ethier is now in remission, having finished her treatment in June.
“I had a great response to treatment,” she said. “I think it helps that I was caught in time and that’s all thanks to Louie.
“I am so thankful to have him in my life – he’s the best dog.”
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