Miniature schnauzer Suki has been championed as a miracle survivor after she was saved following a savaging by another dog.
The pet, who will be 10 next month, has been a constant companion to Marjorie Nicholson after she was widowed when her husband Bryan died aged 74.
She was welcomed as a seven-month-old rescue dog to her Fulwell home and is much-loved by Marjorie’s three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as friends they meet on their morning walk along the seafront.
But Marjorie was left facing life without Suki when she was attacked in Side Cliff Road seven weeks ago by a dog accidently let out of its yard by a young child.
The mauling was so vicious, one of the dog’s teeth was found in her stomach, she had to have her damaged spleen removed and it caused part of her intestines to come out of her body.
She also had to have her jaw wired and lost teeth.
I can’t fault them, they’ve been wonderful, and Suki has been a little star.Marjorie Nicholson
The ordeal happened as Suki was taken out for her usual weekend walk by Marjorie’s friend John Warran, whose hand was bitten as he tried to save her from the other animal’s jaws.
The first her 81-year-old owner knew of what happened was when John returned minutes later without her pet, who had been taken to a vet surgery for urgent help.
Marjorie, who worked at Boots in the Bridges for 24 years before her retirement, said: “The vet said they couldn’t do anything for her because she was in such a state, she really was terrible, and I said ‘do you suggest she’s put to sleep?’ and they said ‘it’s up to you’, but I had my PDSA wallet with me and by that point the police had turned up.
“We said we’d take her to the PDSA hospital in Gateshead and the police were marvellous and took us through.
“We had to leave her there for the weekend, but they kept phoning me to let me know how she was.
“We picked her up on the Monday and had to go back every day.
“I can’t fault them, they’ve been wonderful, and Suki has been a little star.
“She’s doing great and we’re down the Cat and Dog Steps for a coffee every morning.”
Police investigated the attack and the family who owned the dog decided to have it put down following discussions with officers.
Suki, who was also treated at Sunderland’s PDSA surgery, has been hailed as one of the charity’s top stories of survival as an early entrant in its Pet Survivor 2015 awards.
PDSA vet Vicki Larkham-Jones said: “Every week, dedicated vet teams help to get our beloved pets back on all four paws again after serious injury and illness.
A panel of judges will shortlist a small group to take part in a public vote, with the winner announced at the end of the year.