‘Whippet keeps me in trim’

Rob Ward and his dog Spartacus
Rob Ward and his dog Spartacus
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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A dog is a man’s best friend – and if you’re an avid runner, a whippet is not a bad choice for a pet.

But for two-year-old Spartacus, it’s now the other way round thanks to a life-saving blood transfusion and devoted care from owner Rob Ward.

And, after the amazing turnaround, Rob will be running his third London Marathon for the dog he calls his best friend – and the charity whose work helps save dogs with her condition.

The drama began four weeks ago, when Rob noticed Spartacus seemed subdued.

After taking her to her vet, she was diagnosed with anaemia, a life-threatening condition for a dog.

She was referred to an anaemia specialist in Winchester, where she spent a week receiving treatment, including a blood transfusion using blood from another dog.

Rob, 33, of Trevis Road, Milton, says: ‘She was so seriously ill that I was even told to say my goodbye to her at the beginning of that week because they didn’t think she’d survive.

‘It was a horrible week because my dog is literally my best friend. She’s so devoted that she comes out running with me and is my regular training partner.She’s incredibly fit.’

Spartacus is now making a good recovery, although she will not be able to run with Rob for a while as she regains her strength.

Rob, who works at Southern Electric in Havant, said: ‘Spartacus has run for me up until this year, but now through the London Marathon it’s my turn to run for her and raise as much money as I can.’

Rob will be raising money for Pet Blood Bank, a charity that helps sick and injured dogs receive blood transfusions.