Happy 12th Birthday to my Battersea Boy

Today I’m digressing from things yarn related to celebrate Mr Hicks’ twelfth birthday. Twelve feels to me like a real milestone for any golden retriever, but it seems an especially big milestone to Mr Hicks.

Just under twelve years ago we visited Battersea Old Windsor where we spotted this little chap.

Copy of Hicks 2 16-08

It was love at first sight.

At 14 weeks old, Mr Hicks came to live with us – although he wasn’t called Mr Hicks at the time. Adopting him was one of the best decisions I ever made. But it hasn’t been easy.

Around five or six months old, I forget quite when, he began to tear the fur out on his back. As dogs can’t be tested for allergies until they’re over a year old, he wasn’t properly diagnosed for over six months. Meantime he continued to chew so badly his skin became sore and infected, he suffered recurrent ear and eye infections and an extreme number of hot spots – hot spots are septic patches that erupt from under the skin. They aren’t just unpleasant, itchy and sore, having them makes the dog feel unwell also. Needless to say we did a lot of vet and dermatological specialist visiting – at times we were visiting the vet three times a week, every week.


Eventually Hicks was diagnosed as having a severe dust  and food mite allergy – things you can never totally get rid of. Attempting to get on top of Hick’s health took a lot of high maintenance medication, washing routines and constantly watching him so he didn’t sneak off and pull more fur out. It broke my heart having to put a buster collar on him every bedtime and every time we left him – even when we left him alone for just five minutes.

We got in top of the infections pretty quickly, but it wasn’t until he was about four that we got Hicks to a place where the hot spots stopped completely – although he would still get very itchy and would chew fur from his back when excited, stressed or no one was looking.

Hicks’ improved health lasted for about 3 years before his system started throwing out hotspots again – dogs’ allergies get worse as they grow older. Fortunately the problems have never got as bad again as they were at the start and, since December, a new medication – along with the others he was already on – has stopped the hotspots  again and finally completely stopped him chewing at his back. Fingers crossed it stays that way.


On top of the allergy issues, Mr Hicks has had three malignant mast cell tumours, snapped both cruciate ligaments at different times – which takes a huge recovery – and had various more minor operations, plus a we had very worrying time when his heart beat slowed and he became very lethargic. He’s cost tens of thousands in vets bills – fortunately we have insurance.

Stopping Hicks chewing and kicking his stitches when he needed two operations at one time.

Poor chap has really suffered, but he always picks himself back up and smiles.


Although there isn’t an alternative,  I’ve always hated filling him with drugs and worried about the impact they’ll have on his long term health. But although he’s had way more medication and far more ill health than most other dogs, right now he’s embracing life as if he’s heaps younger than he is. If I’m honest, I never thought we’d reach this place, let alone be so well at twelve. And that’s why Mr Hicks’ twelfth birthday is such a very special cause for celebration in our house.




I’d also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Battersea Old Windsor for giving us such a fantastic boy who, despite all his health challenges, really knows how to enjoy life, and to all the wonderful people over the years – both friends and professionals – who’ve helped us with their medical skills, support and understanding about how tough the going’s been.

But my biggest thank you goes to Mr Hicks for bringing so much love and happiness into our home.  Despite it all, he’s always known how to have a party and get the best out of life.

PS As if to prove he knows how to have a party, just as I’m posting this, he’s come  in from the garden, covered in earth, with a filthy old chew he’s just dug up.

‘Don’t even think of taking it off me.’


40 thoughts on “Happy 12th Birthday to my Battersea Boy

  1. This bought a tear to my eye. I love a digression – especially when it’s a doggy digression.
    You have been both unlucky and lucky with your gorgeous dog. . It’s a shame he has had to undergo so much treatment but not everybody would have undertaken all the expense, hard work and inconvenience to keep him as fit and healthy as he is. Twelve is a good age for a golden retriever anyway and you have helped him to reach it because of your love and devotion. Your dedication has given him a life he might not have had if somebody else had picked him at Windsor and you should be proud of yourselves and HRH. I wish you lots more time together and hope he digs up loads more dirty old chew bones because there’s nothing a goldie likes better – apart from wallowing in the muddiest puddle to be found. Give him a hug from me.

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  2. Aw I’ve got a tear in my eye too.Twelve is a good age for any retriever and is testament to your good care of him.I hope he gives you years more of love and pleasure.What a beautiful boy.:) xxx

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  3. Our best birthday wishes to Mr Hicks and you all. Hugs and more hugs from us here in Johannesburg. I am sure the colder weather also played a big part, and still he is as happy as ever. I hope my little Miekie makes it that far, I can see her getting older now. 🙂

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  4. What an amazing story Bekki. I’ve garnered bits and pieces about Mr Hicks health in the time I’ve been visiting but didn’t realise it was quite so complex and severe. The poor fellow – and poor you too! I can imagine the stress and concern you have gone through over these years. Mr Hicks is an excellent example to us all of how to get on with life and enjoy every moment despite the lot we have drawn. I have noticed how he seems to be enjoying an extended spell of good health lately [I hope I’m right about that] so I’m sending wishes for continuation of the same and many more years for you to enjoy each others company. Happy Birthday! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello 🙂 Thank you. Yes, touch wood, he’s been very good since December. You’re right, he’s a great example to us all. I just wish I could explain what’s going on more to him. He really does know how to live life – he’s been high maintenance because he’s so excitable and adventurous too – and I’m sure that helps him get through and stay young. Although excitable doesn’t help recovery from ops 😦 All in all, we are so very blessed to have him and I wouldn’t trade the things I’ve had to give up for him to have the best life we can give him. He’s given us far more in return 🙂

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  5. Happy Birthday Mr. Hicks!! Such a touching life story, he’s certainly been through the mill 😦 But, I’ve been really happy reading lately how much he has found a new youthfulness, lol especially going to dig up old chew bones ~ proves his memory is still in tact too! 🙂

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  6. Happy Birthday Mr Hicks! What a lovely post to read 🙂 Well done to you too for persevering with his allergies as I know that they are quite tricky to handle and get on top of! We think that our little Buzz may be starting with Malassezia 😦 Hoping to to try a few home remedies before medication though 🙂 xx

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    1. Thank you. Sorry to hear about Buzz, I know Westies do suffer with skin conditions. Hope something gentle gets on top of it. If it doesn’t, loads of people out there to help and always more than one solution too. Good luck. Let me know how it goes.

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  7. What a gorgeous puppy he was – can see why you fell for him. He grew into a lovely dog and it’s such a shame he’s had so many health problems to cope with. It’s a good thing you have got insurance! I hope your Battersea BOY had a wonderful 12th birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yes I’m really enjoying his current spell of good health. It’s just been so horrible the way we’ve lurched from one thing to another so frequently throughout his life. On top of all the allergy stuff, he’s had a least one operation each year the last six years and he’s always slow to recover because of his duff immune system and his over excitability also often puts his progress back ;-(


  8. Ah, what a lovely story of his life so far – he’s certainly lucky you were the ones he went home with as I can’t imagine everyone being prepared to got through all that agony and expense. The penultimate photo of Hicks in profile is perfect and shows what a truly handsome old man he has become.

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  9. Happy Birthday Mr. Hicks! I was very moved by your story, he was very lucky that you found him and gave him such a loving home, and in return you are very lucky to have such a handsome and loyal companion. I do love the picture of him in the muddy pond 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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