A rescue dog who became a Ministry of Defence Police dog is ‘lucky to be alive’ after collapsing at home

Twelve-year-old German Shepherd Kaiser was rushed to the vets by his worried owners after he collapsed in June at his home in Berkshire. 

Rescue dog Kaiser was 10-months-old when he was found straying in Plymouth, Devon. Staff at the rescue centre who took him in contacted the Ministry of Defence where he was paired with police dog handler, Ian Brake. 

They patrolled an atomic weapons base in Berkshire for five years and, away from work, Kaiser lived with Ian and his wife, Heather, at their home. When he fell down a hole and broke his leg during a night shift in 2016 he was retired and the family adopted him as their pet.  

The beloved dog has since struggled with health problems including arthritis and spondylosis and required weekly hydrotherapy – costing £45 a session – as well as a daily immunosuppressant, costing £5 per tablet, plus regular pain relief, supplements and other treatments. 

The family scrimped and saved to cover his costs until registering him with the Thin Blue Paw Foundation; a UK charity that works to protect, celebrate and support retired police dogs. The charity offered the family some respite by covering the costs of 22 sessions of hydrotherapy. 

Then, when Kaiser fell seriously ill suddenly, the charity stepped in again to cover the £800 emergency vet bill. 

“When Kaiser suddenly became unresponsive and lost the use of his back end, we feared the worst,” Ian explained. “We had to carry him to the vets where he was put onto a drip and had multiple tests which were all inconclusive. We believe he may have suffered a nerve issue or a minor stroke.  

“Thankfully, after an overnight stay at the vets, he came home to us and we were so relieved to have him home. Vets found an enlarged heart, which may indicate early onset heart failure, so this will be monitored going forwards. 

“He’s now made an almost full recovery and we’re so thrilled to have more time to spend with our wonderful boy.” 

The family has always managed to cover Kaiser’s costs but struggled financially after having their son and following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Ian’s wife, Heather, said: “Hydrotherapy really helps Kaiser live life to the full and that’s all that matters to us. We’ve paid for it for almost five years now and we’ve always managed it. He comes first.  

“But times have been really tough since Covid; life has been tough!” 

Ian added: “We asked the Thin Blue Paw for some assistance as we really can’t afford anything unforeseen like this on top of his normal costs for hydrotherapy and medication. The charity kindly offered to pay the full invoice which we are extremely grateful for. We feel massively indebted to the Thin Blue Paw for being there when we needed them most.” 

Thin Blue Paw Foundation trustee Gemma Wardell said: “Kaiser is lucky to be alive after collapsing at home and it’s thanks to the quick response of his dedicated owners that he’s recovered today. The last thing they need, after doing so much for him for so long and after the traumatic experience of him falling ill, is a huge vet bill to worry about. 

“This is exactly why we founded the Thin Blue Paw Foundation. Dogs like Kaiser deserve access to the very best care they need and it’s impossible for owners to foresee any emergencies like this.  

“We’re here for the dogs and their owners to ensure that these incredible heroes can live long, happy retirements.” 

Heather added: “Kaiser is everything to us. Having the charity there is such a weight off our mind; we know we have somewhere to turn and ask for support.”

The Exeter Daily