A SHIRLEY vet has received national praise from renowned dog lover Paul O’Grady after going ‘above and beyond’ for a bereaved pet owner.
The BBC Radio 2 presenter awarded a ‘Certificate of Thanks’ to Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service, in Highlands Road after hearing about a chocolate Labrador named Rolo, who died a week before his 14th birthday.
The star, famed for his 1990s alter ago as Lily Savage, had been contacted by Rolo’s owner Diane Chavasse, who explained how her beloved pet had died while she was away on holiday in Mexico and how staff at Willows had gone out of their way to deal with the tragedy in her absence.
Diane said: “Although we live in Bideford, North Devon, Rolo had been staying with my daughter Anna in Solihull while I was away.
“There was no change in his behaviour. He was slowing down a bit but he still loved a gentle walk each day and continued to treat everyone he saw as a potential new best friend.
“He was still his usual happy self but Anna got up one day and found he had died peacefully in his sleep.
“When she rang me to tell me what had happened, I didn’t really know what to do as my vet is in Devon.
“Willows was recommended to us by a friend and I spoke to receptionist Kizzy Barber there, who was incredibly kind and sensitive.
“My daughter doesn’t drive, so Kizzy arranged for Willows facilities manager Dave Hindley to go and collect Rolo, so he could be kept at the practice until my return.
“Seeing him brought in, bathed and laying peacefully on a rug, covered with a blanket, was something I’ll never forget.
“He looked like he was just asleep. His fur was clean and soft, just how we remember him.
“I could not believe my ears when we were told there was no charge for all this care, compassion and consideration, other than for the urn and cremation.
“I am so full of gratitude for everything the practice did for us and Rolo. The service Willows provided was above and beyond.”
Over the summer, the family hopes to scatter his ashes at a beach in Devon where Rolo had spent playing.
Not only did Diane write in praise of Willows to O’Grady, she also penned a letter expressing her most sincere thanks to the practice, too.
Tracey Morley Jewkes, hospital director at Willows, said: “It was very thoughtful of Diane to write to Paul O’Grady, and also to us, to express her thanks for the kindness and consideration she’d received.
“Kizzy realised it was a very sad and upsetting situation and, as such, we tried to do everything we could to help Diane and her family through a traumatic time.
“The ‘Certificate of Thanks’ is a lovely touch and we will keep it in a prominent place to remind us all how important it is to always give the best of care to our pets and clients – and how much it is appreciated and valued.”