A dog from Hampshire has been recognised for its determination to battle against all odds by winning the national Pet Factor competition, launched by the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH).

A dog from Hampshire has been recognised for its determination to battle against all odds by winning a national competition, The Pet Factor, launched by the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) to find pets with amazing stories of bravery, companionship and survival.

Kate Hurcombe and Sandy.Sandy, a 13.5 year-old collie-cross from Tiptoe, near Lymington, received an extra surprise at The Pet Factor presentation on April 8, in an emotional reunion with her original owner after more than two years. 
Sandy was diagnosed as diabetic at 11 years old and was re-homed when her original owner, 80-year-old John Dickety, took her to the vet to be put down after having to decide between the dog and his wife, both of who were seriously ill.
Mr Dickety fought back the tears during the emotional reunion. As Sandy gave him a big lick and a wag of her tail, he said: “Seeing her again is as good as winning the lottery.”
Current owner, Kate Hurcombe, of Tiptoe, (near Lymington) and an experienced dog trainer, has cared for Sandy ever since she had received a call from Forest Lodge Veterinary Practice in New Milton.
Since living with Kate, Sandy has battled against pneumonia, pancreatitis, mammary tumours and continues to contend with the daily consequences of diabetes. Despite her illnesses, she still loves playing and going for walks demonstrating the same zest for life as her three year-old “brother” a labrador-cross.
Phil Sketchley, John Dickety, Kate Hurcombe and The Pet Factor winner Sandy.Kate said: “It is just fantastic that Sandy has received the recognition she deserves and brilliant that she has been reunited with Mr Dickety today. It has been an emotional reunion and we are all so happy that Sandy has won Pet Factor 2011. We believe she is a very worthy winner.”
Sandy has won the prestigious Pet Factor title and also a three-night lodge stay at Devon’s five-star Bovey Castle for six people. 
NOAH chief executive Phil Sketchley said: “I’m pleased to present Sandy with The Pet Factor 2011 title and hope they have a fantastic and well-deserved holiday. Sandy’s story proves that just like us, with a bit of TLC and the right healthcare, our pets can enjoy long and happy lives.”
He added: “Kate also mentioned that she has found our Pet Health Information website extremely useful during Sandy’s illnesses which is exactly what it is there for and I hope other pet owners can also benefit from sharing our knowledge. Sandy is a great role model to the aging pet population and I congratulate her and all of our shortlisted pets on behalf of NOAH.”
NOAH’s Pet Health Information website, which featured the competition, exists to help owners make informed decisions about their pets’ healthcare. To find out more, visit www.pethealthinfo.org.uk

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