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Rescue Dog’s career saved by health drink for human’s

MOUNTAIN RESCUE dog, Dru, looked destined for early retirement because of painful arthritis – until his handler gave him a health drink meant for humans!

Two years ago, the clever Border collie – out of an elite band of just 80 dogs qualified to work as part of the National Search and Rescue Dog Association (NSARDA) – made national headlines when he saved the lives of a father and son lost in severe weather in the Peak District.

But Dru’s impressive working career looked finished a few months ago when a vet diagnosed arthritis. His owner and handler, Stephen Ward of Huddersfield, informed NSARDA that the highly qualified collie would have to retire from duty.

Then he had an idea – Stephen decided to treat the dog’s arthritis with the same health drink he used to help his own rheumatic joints.

‘A few months ago, I noticed Dru had started limping if we’d had a long day working or walking, and it was a big blow when the vet said he had arthritis. He has a good nose, a good brain, and is highly qualified, but he was in pain and it would have been cruel to continue working him. I had to accept that his days with the rescue service were over,’ said Stephen Ward.

‘But, in desperation, I decided to try one last thing. As a former rugby player, I had painful knee joints and was taking a health drink called Vitacoll Gold, on a friend’s recommendation, to try to reduce my pain and inflammation. It definitely worked for me, so I thought it was worth a try with Dru.’

After four months of taking Vitacoll Gold, Dru’s ‘resignation’ from NSARDA has been withdrawn and the clever collie has now clocked up 100 mountain rescue searches, in which he has personally found six people in trouble.

In his finest moment, two years ago, Dru was hailed the hero after an eight-hour search for a father and son lost in severe weather in the Peak District, which involved six dogs and 130 people. He found them 2,000 feet up on a plateau, and although suffering from hypothermia they both made a full recover.

‘Training Dru as a Search and Rescue Dog was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I have to work hard to keep his skills at the highest level. He is on 24-hour call, 365 days a year. I probably have the only rescue dog who is kept working because of a health drink meant for humans!’ said Stephen Ward.

‘We now share the same tub of Vitacoll and I am thrilled that he is able to carry on working. I know that Dru is no longer in pain because he has stopped limping. Just last week-end we did a 12-mile walk with no ill effects.’

Search Dogs are used to search for missing hill walkers or climbers, or increasingly persons missing from home, elderly and confused persons, also missing children and victims and victims of crime. NSARDA can work along with Mountain Rescue or directly for the police – more details can be found on their website:-