My Labrador

Australian Neuter Champion Tapua Honey Gem CDX         born 02/04/2012


here is a link to Dora’s advertisement for optus showing her retrieval skills.



Dora surfing at Stockton Beach near Newcastle NSW  2016

Dora with her mother and litter mates

dora b3

Dora at 3 weeks

Dora The Explorer 3 weeks old 001

Dora at 5 weeks


Dora sailing at Careel Bay Pittwater aged 8 weeks


Dora learning to sit and focus (16 weeks)


and using that skill as the Kleenex promotions puppy in July 2012


Dora begins formal training at Metropolitan Mid week Dog Training Club
training dora

Dora at 12 months

Dora (2)

Strutting her stuff in the Championship Shows to gain her Breed Title

strutting the show ring

Tapua Honey Gem 25.4.14


Beginning her Obedience Trial Campaign with 2 wins at the Illawarra Club in CCD

Dora Double Prize Winner CCD

More Advertising work for Animal Talent Time


2014 sees Dora aged 2 years achieving 2nd place in the NSW State Obedience Titles in Novice CD


and Club Champion



2015 the wall of trophies and ribbons


2015 Dora wins 2nd place at the NSW State Titles again, this time in Open CDX.


and Club Champion again!



More work !  

on set for Purina at Centennial Park with Animal House Agency


more advice as Dora begins UD training


2016 Dora begins RATG training



First Trial and First Place at Bulahdelah with the Working Gundog Club

Second Trial and Second Place in Novice RATG at Brush Farm







 Major Illness

Our Experience due to the appearance of Dora’s Mysterious Lumps

March 5 – Sunday – Cooranbong , 38 Marshall Street, The RATG Trial, competed in runs through bushland/farmland/dams

March 6 – Monday – a lump appears on Dora’s RH rump 3 cm from the anus (centre to centre) which is equivalent to half an apple beside her tail. This appeared virtually overnight. Therefore on Monday afternoon, we booked to see the vet for Tuesday afternoon. We thought it might be a haematoma or a torn muscle or something due to the exertion she put in at the competition the previous day.

March 7 – Tuesday – a fine needle aspiration was taken, sent to pathology, looked like normal red cells in various stages of decay – the lump was hairy, not red, totally dry but firm and obviously still the same size as the previous day.

March 10– Friday –  because the underlying skin looked red and angry Dora is prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Cephalexin and Previcox

March 11 – Saturday – in the afternoon after some running around suddenly the lump spontaneously bleeds slightly with drops of pale pink seeming to come from skin follicles rather that one particular spot. The lump is red and skin tightly extended now in a circle adjacent to the anus but still 1 cm of clear skin separates the two areas.

March 12 – Sunday – due to the bleeding from the day before we go to see vet but additionally we have now noticed a new lump on the RH side of her ribs 5 cm and flatter, seems within the muscles of the area. At this visit the rear lump is overall very wet and leaking pus now from the centre.

March 16 – Thursday – We see because a new small lump on the same RH side is felt in the flank between the ribs and the hip. The rear lump is still leaking and growing worse with the associated lump smaller but the wound larger (now 50 cent size) and it is very leaky liquid now draining only from the centre. More needle biopsies and more prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs are organised .

March 21 – Tuesday – We notice a marked deterioration during the day and take her at 6pm to Vet who is shocked and agrees that Dora is unable to walk without encouragement and assistance, is panting and huffing instead of normal breathing, the rear lump is red, wet and very sore which makes sitting or lying down a difficult process for Dora to negotiate. The 3 other lumps have noticeably increased in size but are still under the skin and show no outward signs of redness but they are easily visible without touching them because they protrude above the body profile.


March 21 – Tuesday – 8.08 pm Arrived at specialist hospital and saw Vet who agreed and noted ALL LUMPS including the ones on the ribs etc. not just the rear lump. She also agreed that Dora was breathing with a noticeable ‘huff’, we did describe the history of the lumps and the fact that Dora had been competing in a field trial the day before the first large lump rapidly grew on her bottom. I am sure She made notes about this consultation but in hindsight I am sure no one read them or our outcome the next day (Wednesday) would have been radically different. She confirmed that blood would be taken immediately that night to begin the investigation and said other investigation may include x-ray, ultra-sound, biopsy, tick search and intravenous hydration. We paid a deposit of $1000 and were advised not to call as the vets would meet between 8am and 9am Wednesday (the following morning in 12 hours time) and Dora’s case manager would contact us to describe the treatment plan at around 10am. Due to the Specialist hospital reputation we believed what she said and felt confident that Dora would be given treatment appropriate for a dog who was delivered to them in response to a referral by a personal vet who had sent on the previous history of 2 weeks treatment and was so worried she felt 24 hour facility essential to an investigation and treatment which could be administered even at 8pm at night giving immediate help for this sick uncomfortable dog, (who incidentally is 4 years old and very fit normally, competing in dog trials and sport at a high level).

March 22 – Wednesday – 11.30 – I waited to phone in respect of the instructions I had been given by Specialist Hospital . In hindsight this was a mistake. I was told Dr D was head of Dora’s case and he would phone. At 12 noon Dr S called and said the diagnosis was simply a peri-anal abscess fistula/ anal farunculosis, definitely only a dermatology problem. She said to come to have our case explained by Dr L at 5.30pm.

5pm – We arrived and were given an account for an extra $179.17 (not mentioning this because of the money but it gave us an itemised list of what had been done in the past 21 hours). Reading this I realised that 5 doses of methadone and two instances of fine needle aspiration for cytology performed at 12.30 (mid-day) was all that had happened. Our pet had spent 21 hours basically sedated but untreated, un-investigated and in fact neglected.

5.30 – Entering the consultation room we then realised that Dr L had no idea of our dog’s medical condition, had no case notes and had decided to send us home immediately with a pre-prepared pack of 30 codeine tablets, “you can take her home now”. She however disagreed totally with Dr S diagnosis that had been so confidently stated at noon of “simply a peri-anal abscess fistula/ anal farunculosis”, but Dr L had no alternate diagnosis because she had not read any case notes.

6pm – At this moment Dora was assisted into the consultation room. We were shocked and panicked by her condition – when Dora appeared she was very dehydrated and in a stupor, panting and uncomfortably stiff in her limbs after a day confined.

6.30pm – John phoned Local Vet  to get advice. We knew Dora had not been investigated, assessed properly or treated in any way at all. He asked Lical Vet  to ring SPecialist and speak to someone in charge to find out what was going on.

Dr L said

• She had no idea Dora had other lumps(3) apart from the one on her backside, even though the previous night Dr J had examined these lumps and presumably noted them in her report or case notes along with the reported breathing problem and additionally a history of when the problem initiated sent from Lical Vet .

• Dr L totally disagreed with the diagnosis of Anal Furunculosis given to us by Dr S at noon in her phone call on behalf of Dora’s case manager Dr D.  Dr L said she had seen Dora’s rear lump earlier in the day but had not looked at any other part of Dora’s body because Dr L was very busy with consultations that day.

• Dr L apologised for her lack of backgrounding concerning Dora’s case saying “I have not even had time for lunch today”. Does Specialist Hospital  think their highly qualified professionals can do their best work when this occurs? On Tuesday night when we admitted Dora to Specialist Hospital  should have told us that they were under staffed and had no room for Dora’s case. We should have been given the option of taking her to another facility where they would have had time to work on her properly and immediately. The impression we were given was that she would be instantly tested (blood, biopsy etc) on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

• Dr L realised there had been a significant communication breakdown between herself, the specialist team and ourselves. She immediately worked to remedy this situation.

7pm –  Dora was transferred back to the medical unit and Dr L said she would organise a new variation of the antibiotics/anti-inflammatories (ie replacing those prescribed by The Animal Hospital – Cephalexin & Previcox) which Dora had missed taking since admission to Specialist Hospital due to no alternative action. Dr L also said she would put Dora on a hydrating drip.

8pm – We met with Dr L in the treatment room and saw that Dora was now in a comfortable bed with a drip and looked physically more comfortable. I assisted with preparing tablets and food when Dr L said “oh these are the wrong antibiotics, just wait and I will get the right ones”. I instantly wondered what would have happened if a nurse and not the highly qualified specialist was handling this task. Dr L was doing this as a special favour to us as she obviously felt very sorry for what we and Dora had gone through, normally this would have not been her role. Dr L and I continued to administer the tablets to Dora carefully double checking each dose. This sorted out we fed Dora, Dr L even filled her water bowl.

8.30 pm – Dr  L promised to send us a full copy of her report and indeed we received this email promptly before 9pm so we knew what the record was and what the plan for tomorrow was. This was the first real information we had from Specialist Hospital

DR D – an interview held at 7pm while Dora was being transferred to the medical unit.

While Dr L took blood samples and established Dora’s hydrating drip we spoke to Dr D for the first time.

He gave excuses for the 23 hour period where Specialist treatment of Dora was incompetent, put her at risk and resulted in negligence which increased Dora’s discomfort and deterioration of her condition since her admittance to Specialist Hospital .

These reasons were:

• We have so many highly specialised experts here that we did not know where to place Dora so she slipped between the cracks.

• Our staff are very busy and don’t communicate face to face

• A 21 hour delay in investigation and treatment is of no consequence to anyone, no disadvantage to the dog or client or vet “let’s just move forward from here … sorry about what happened”.

• “I could blow your budget in one day” said Dr D when we asked why tests suggested on Tuesday during admittance (e.g. bloods, x-ray, ultra sound) were not acted upon during the subsequent 21 hours ( until when we arrived and started getting things going finally).

Dr D said to phone in the morning and a plan would be in place. However I wanted to see Dora was being organised before we left and Dr D said “we can bring her out to the waiting room for you to give her a pat”. He seriously did not understand that I had completely lost trust and all faith in Specialist Hospital after speaking to him and listening to his excuses. I said that I needed to witness that the drip hydration was in, antibiotics were given etc. Dr D looked perplexed but organised this and I went in to meet Dr L and assist her as described in ‘section 8PM’ above.

I phoned from home to Specialist Hospital at 10pm; 4am; 8am;

Thursday March 23

8.30am – we went to Lical Vet Hospital to speak to the vet and relate our feelings of concern about the failings of Specialist Hospital, the incompetence, the bad communication, lack of procedures to ensure patient safety, conflicting statements about dora’s status/plan and mostly the peculiar excuses for doing nothing.

9.50am – arrived at Specialist Hospital and met Dr C at the door just as he was phoning us thinking we would be at home. We were right at the front door of Specialist Hospital  and planning to spend the entire day monitoring every minute of Dora’s day and speaking for her. We felt guilty about abandoning her to such a place on Tuesday evening, basing our trust on the reputation of a place instead of personal experience. The phone calls on Wednesday had been misleading and tokenistic – Dr D obviously had not been her case manager – no one had done that job. Dr S had not actually had a confirmed diagnosis although she was adamant about it. The only way to be sure of progress was to be there face to face.


Now we saw what Specialist Hospital is capable of.

Dr C had seen Dora. Dr C had a plan. Dr C had organised options based on cost but immediately appreciated that we wanted it to be based on outcomes and the best diagnostic tools for the scientists, we did appreciate their expertise. He got the idea. He got us! He put us in a private room for the day (7 hours) and got on with the job. He constantly updated us, consulted, showed us the CT scan and shared the results, options and progress as the day went on. He treated us as intelligent, curious and dedicated partners in a search for Dora’s future wellness.

Could this have been done yesterday?

1.20pm results of CT scan come back with some lump involvement on the edges of each lung so a ‘lung wash’ was done to get samples from these spots on the interior of the lungs.

3pm due to aftereffects of the anaesthetic used to enable biopsies, CT and lung wash Dora was very sedated and still on drips, obviously still not improving as the antibiotics have been introduced only 20 hours ago (and until some results from pathology come through days from now we are not sure if antibiotics are correct). So she is in for the night and we phone to check on her comfort during the night.

Friday March 24

I arrive at Specialist Hospital at 9.15am ready to sit in the waiting room for the day or however long it is necessary to continue checking that after the good work of yesterday no one ‘drops the ball”. Dr C and Dr L both discuss the plan for the next stage with me and explain possible prognoses.

12pm Dora is prepared for discharge and Dr C teaches me how to carefully wipe with saline any fluids which ooze from her abscess, goes through the 4 medications and describes any signs which would indicate problems.

1pm we are assisted out to the car where Dora is lifted in. At home she sleeps but often is panting or quick shallow breathing, nearly always lying stretched out on her side, needs encouragement to drink and will only drink chicken broth from the chicken breasts I boil. She is only animated when given food (chicken breasts). She looks very sick still and is restless throughout the night, coughing about once per hour. Her wound is no better and still pus oozes.

Dr C and Dr L email a thorough report through to us detailing all the treatment and possible bacteria that may be found. We have an appointment for Wednesday March 29 when they hope a clearer picture will be available.

Saturday March 25

6am  Dora shows no improvement  but we continue with medication, light meals of chicken breast, chicken fluids (she shows no interest in plain water) and gently cleaning her wound. She needs encouragement to move from the position lying on her side but when daughter Sophie visits at 2pm Dora is up wagging and very excited for about 10 minutes.

4pm Dr C phones to answer our queries about things we read in the emailed report. He answers all our questions and offers to speak to us tomorrow at any time if we have any worries.

7pm Dora is medicated and rests – no change in her.

11pm Dora wakes and is given a pain tablet. She is panting. She chooses to sleep in her bed near the open back door instead of in our room.

Sunday March 26

3am – I hear Dora drinking water and at 6am she goes outside. When she comes back in I hear her licking herself and I check her. She is lying curled up like a sleeping dog breathing calmly instead of stretched out and panting. She is looking a bit better for the first time in 6 days.

7am – she has medications and chicken. The wound is not pus but clear gel-like liquid. It still obviously pains her when she is trying to sit down after being up but her walking is better. She chooses to lie in the sun on a carpet by the window and sleeps.

Monday March 27 resting but starts to reject all food and water. She can be persuaded but after 2 mouthfuls of either she stops.

Tuesday March 28 during the morning develops an obvious limp and even swallowing her own saliva is noticeably difficult so at noon I take her back to Specialist Hospital where we see Dr L and Dr P who takes biopsies of fluid in the wrist and lump on flank.

She is almost completely unresponsive by this stage and barely notices what is around her. She can be made to walk to the treatment room where the drip is attached and she stays the night. She is hospitalised again as her swallowing is now difficult hence another reason for rejecting food and water plus one of her joints (wrist) has swollen and sore making walking difficult.

The two specialists consider this could be connected to whatever disease she has (they are still not committed to a cause) and are now doing more tests on the new problem areas. They find an ulcer in the roof of her mouth and excess fluid in her wrist.

When I go back over the history with Dr P,  Dr L is confused about the length of this saga still because of the inaccurate case notes she has to read which say the first lump was there for 3 weeks before we saw any vet. She says she will alter these notes! One more thing that points to poor documentation of Dora’s case.

Wednesday March 29 we arrive at Specialist Hospital  at 8am praying for a miracle.   In all we spent 2 weeks with our local vet and 1 week with sash to today’s time line from the very first consultation on this issue . Mistakes have been made because vets have had poor communication with each other and they have not taken or used the consultation notes or the observations of the clients or other vets which could have helped the pet. John and I organise to personally deliver the biopsies taken during the morning straight to Sydney university and we phone and meet our friend Dr W (pathologist) to hand over these and speed up the process, which is frustratingly slow. On the basis of results so far indicating possible vasculitis Dora starts Oxypentifylline tablets. Until this point she has had methadone for pain, and since 22 March clavulox enrofloxacin metronidazol antibiotics and maropitant  for nausea. We leave her in the evening still not sure of her chances.

Thursday March 30 John and I arrive at Specialist Hospital at 9am and stay till 2pm. Dora still needs hydrated drip but shows improvement.  The treatment with prednisolone commences on the basis of pathology results from the past 24 hours which seem to rule out cancer, fungal or bacterial infection. Dr C takes urine and blood tests to investigate systemic lupus erythmatosus but the current idea is Vasculitis.

Friday March 31 we collect Dora at 11am and take her home with all medication. The wound is still stitched and weeping but clean and unhealed .

Five days later on Wednesday April 5 we see Dr L who removes stitches from the 4 biopsy sites.

She notes there is still some swelling and the 2 large defects are not attached to subcutaneous tissue. The mouth soft palate has become smaller and shallower .

Tuesday April 18 we see Dr L who lowers the dose of prednisolone be 25 percent and Dr H (surgeon) suggests Manuka Honey to dress the wound instead of restitching.

Gradually the wound closes over the next months. The drugs continue till December 30 and are gradually reduced. Dora’s weight has gone down to a low of 28k but balloons to 38k. This is stabilised to 33k by December.

She re-enters competition with Rally O in 2018 gaining novice and advanced titles in quick succession. In March she resumes the quest for UD.

2 Responses to My Labrador

  1. Pauline Gill says:

    What a clever clever girl – and her mum & dad have provided the best environment to grow and learn in.

  2. Penna Lidia says:

    You’ve done a wonderful job training her to be so intelligent wnd obedient. Look forward to following her progress.

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