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Loveable rescue puppy faces race against time to complete his bucket list due to rare heart defect

Opie who is just weeks old is facing a life cut short due to a heart defect but his foster carer is hoping he can first complete his ‘puppy bucket list’.
Heartbroken Opie may look like an ordinary labrador puppy but sadly he suffers from Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia - a rare heart defect which means his life is likely to be cut short.

14-week-old Opie was rescued by the RSPCA in July with 35 other dogs, including many other labrador puppies, from cramped and unsuitable conditions in East Sussex.

He is the only one to have been found with this rare heart malfunction, but luckily he is now in the care of RSPCA inspector Julie Parsons who is determined to give him the best life possible and opportunities to enjoy all the things that dogs love - for however long that might be.

Julie, who lives in Hassocks, Sussex with her teenage son, two other rescue dogs and a rescue cat has come up with a puppy bucket list of experiences she feels Opie should have.

Opie’s bucket list
• Eat doggy ice cream
• Walk in Epping forest
• Walk on the South Downs to see the famous Jack and Jill windmills
• Learn to swim
• Enter a charity dog show
• Go on a picnic
• Climb a mountain
• Play on Westward Ho! Beach
• Sleep on Mummy’s bed

Julie said: “When Opie first came to us we knew something was wrong, he wasn’t like other puppies, he was very lethargic and generally disinterested in life - the opposite to how he should be.

“The drugs have really helped him and he is running around now and you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with him, but I know this could all change in just one vet visit.

“He’s a lovely dog, we’ve all fallen in love with him so we just want him to experience what it is like to be a puppy and to give him the best life possible while we have him.”

So far Opie has entered a dog show and won a first and a second place and he will hopefully be completing his other goals in the next couple of weeks.

Opie is fostered by Julie and his ongoing medication is provided by RSPCA Brighton, an independently registered charity and rehoming centre in East Sussex.

There is a chance, once Opie is big enough, that he may be able to have an operation to help fix the problem with his heart, but this can cost in the region of £20,000.

RSPCA Brighton is fundraising for Opie’s ongoing care and to help other rescue animals in need.

RSPCA Brighton branch manager Jenny Eden said: “When Opie and the other puppies first came into RSPCA care they were in a really bad way and it took a lot of care, love and attention for them to be able to find new homes.

“It is tragic that Opie now faces a new battle in his short life but we all want to support him as best we can. He has really landed on his paws with Julie and I know she will help him live the life he deserves to have, even in the face of adversity.”

To donate to RSPCA Brighton please visit:

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.


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