Heathlands Animal Sanctuary

Registered office: 13 Eastfield Road, Royston, Herts SG8 7ED

(Please note, no dogs are kept at this address)

Registered Charity Number 1067970

Having a pet is not a right, it’s a privilege.

Nelly’s Story

by her foster mum Deborah


Over the last month or so Nelly started to retain more fluid and to lose muscle mass, which is common with heart conditions like hers. Heathlands provided a high protein puppy food diet for her and we kept a very close eye on Nelly. Her monthly check ups moved to fortnightly. She started to slow down, she still enjoyed a very gentle walk and still loved her food, but gradually she slept for more and more and started to look so frail. We all knew the time was coming to say farewell to Nelly. On 2 June Nelly had her final walk in the fields that she loved, she was very tired and was finding it hard, we knew she had to let Nelly go.

We will never forget the lovely girl who came to stay with us - thanks to Dundalk Dog Rescue and to Heathlands for giving Nelly the chance to have some love in her final months. She didn’t die in the pound. She joined our family and knew she was loved and cared for and the look in her eyes said that she loved us too.



Heathlands suggested that we keep Nelly as a long term foster as she was too ill to be re-homed and we agreed to keep Nelly and give her all the love and comfort that she deserved. We took her on gentle walks in the fields at the back of our house which she loved and she seemed to have energy and even started to play a little and roll on her back in the garden. Over the next couple of months Nelly remained a quiet girl, we had never heard her bark, but she gradually started to explore other rooms in the house; initially she would only go in the kitchen and living room and really didn’t like walking down the hall. We put mats down where there were no carpets to help her walk easily. She continued to have monthly check ups at the vet and thankfully her coughing stopped, her chest was clear and she was stable. She was on six different medications!

We kept in regular contact with the vet and with Heathlands who were happy to support Nelly through her difficulties and we were happy to give her a loving home. She was clearly feeling at home; she had started to bark, and even tell our other dogs off if they got too boisterous! She loved being part of a family, it was so sad to think that this dear girl was in the pound, particularly at her time of life and in her condition with no medication.


When Nelly arrived at Heathlands the week before Christmas 2016 we were delighted to welcome her into our home. She was a quiet girl who loved to be stroked and would nudge your hand to stroke more if you stopped. She was clearly an older dog but we were hopeful that she would find a retirement home for her remaining years. Shortly after arriving, Heathlands arranged for her to be checked at the vet so that ongoing medication could be prescribed. She was on 2 medications when she arrived and these were continued. She arrived with a cough and it was difficult to know if it was kennel cough or linked to her heart condition. On a second visit to the vet they found that her heart beat was very irregular and they recommended that she was seen by a cardiac specialist vet. Heathlands arranged for further specialist tests and the results were not good. Nelly was found to have a greatly enlarged aorta, and her heart was not functioning as it should. Additional medication was recommended. She was still coughing but if the additional medication worked this should improve as it was linked to her cardiac condition. She was also retaining fluid due to her heart and was on diuretics, which then caused her to be incontinent sometimes.


We first saw Nelly on a post from Dundalk Dog Rescue in September 2016. She had been rescued from the pound but had then collapsed on a walk. Thankfully she was taken into a foster home in Ireland and looked after by her new foster mum until she was well. She was found to have a heart murmur and started on medication and it was felt that this should keep her condition under control.




Heathlands funded all of Nelly’s care including specialist cardiac assessment, regular veterinary appointments, monthly and then fortnightly, 6 different medications, incontinence mats, a home visit on 02 June. As well has her food and high protein diet. Although it was heart breaking and many tears were shed, we would do the same for another dog in need without hesitating. The love you get back is more than enough to counter the tears. We currently have 2 Heathlands foster dogs as well as 4 Heathlands dogs of our own. Consider being a fosterer for Heathlands, you can really make the difference to a dog's life!