â€˜We brought forward Xmas for our dying dogâ€™
When Alyson Page discovered her Christmas-loving pooch was terminally ill, she treated her to an early Yuletide with all the trimmings
Animal lover Alyson Page was devastated when she was told her beloved St Bernard dog Sophia was terminally ill.
But the devoted owner vowed Sophia wouldnâ€™t miss out on her favourite time of year and moved the familyâ€™s Christmas celebrations forward.
Alyson, 31, lives in Leigh, Lancashire, with husband Michael, 37, a handyman, their daughter Lillyth, one, and their other dog, Yogi.
Alyson says: â€œWe were heartbroken when, in June, Sophia was diagnosed with bone cancer and given only weeks to live – but we were determined to give her a good send-off. Sophia had always loved Christmas, so
we recreated it for her. Her tail didnâ€™t stop wagging! I feel comforted knowing she had the send-off she deserved.â€
The couple, who met in 2005, got Sophia in 2009 as an eight-week-old pup. â€œWhen we saw her, we fell in love,â€ says Alyson. â€œShe was very playful.â€
SNOW-LOVING SOPHIA Alyson soon noticed Sophiaâ€™s love of Christmas. She says: â€œCold, snowy conditions are a St Bernardâ€™s natural environment. With her big, warm coat, Sophia adored the cold weather, which meant that Christmas was her favourite time. For a fewyears, we had heavy snow in the winter, and she loved it. She also loved ripping wrapping paper and opening bones. She enjoyed turkey and roast potatoes, so
Christmas dinner was perfect for her. Weâ€™d get her an advent calendar of doggy treats, and she wore a Santa hat every year.â€
A year later, the couple adopted a second St Bernard, Yogi, now five. And last November, after their first cycle of IVF, the couple completed their family when they welcomed daughter Lillyth, now one.
Alyson says: â€œIVF was hard but Sophia was a wonderful support. Whenever I was upset, she was there for a cuddle. Sophia was very maternal with Lillyth too. Sheâ€™d check on her when she cried and was always by her side, especially when we had guests.â€
DEVASTATING NEWS Sadly, in June, Sophia became unwell and was diagnosed with untreatable bone cancer and given just weeks to live.
â€œIt was absolutely devastating,â€ says Alyson. â€œBut instead of dwelling on our sadness, we decided to make Sophiaâ€™s last days count by bringing forward her favourite time of year to July.
â€œWe cooked turkey with all the trimmings. And we took her to Chill Factore, an indoor ski centre. When the management heard her story, they allowed Sophia to roll around in the snow. She loved it and was yelping like a puppy. I was sobbing and laughing at the same time.â€
Sadly, just a few days after her final â€œChristmas,â€ Sophia died with Mike and Alyson by her side.
Alyson says: â€œIt broke my heart to say goodbye. Christmas will never be the same without her, but we take huge comfort from knowing we made her last Christmas special.â€