THE distressed owners of a nine-year-old dog who suddenly fell ill with a rare disease are struggling to cover his vet bills.

Energetic English bull terrier Spike has become a much-loved part of the Taylor family – and he has even saved a life.

While walking on a public footpath near Coate Water a few years ago, grandfather Dereck Taylor suffered a broken jaw, broken ribs and a bleed on the brain when a herd of cows trampled him.

Luckily, Spike barked and ran circles around the herd to scare them away and give the injured pensioner time to escape.

Granddaughter Karla said: “He and Spike have a bond like no other, he honestly would die for Spike. They sleep in the same bed, they are never apart, they are two peas in a pod and they feel lost without each other.”

On Friday, Spike had to be taken into Thamesdown Vets on a stretcher while his worried family waited outside. The vets said he had a lump on his bladder, then found that he had anaemia and enlarged kidneys and warned that he may die in his sleep overnight.

But Spike pulled through and was then diagnosed with Leptospirosis.

The disease causes serious illness in dogs and can even spread to humans. It is caused by bacteria called leptospires that live in water or warm, wet soil. Initial signs include fever, lethargy, and lack of appetite.

The Taylors are racking up thousands of pounds in vet bills to pay for his tests and treatment.

After a few uncertain days, Spike is showing signs of recovery. He is off the drip and could come home if he can urinate by himself.

Karla added: “We’re heartbroken, it’s been traumatic and all a bit uncertain because Spike went downhill so fast.

“He has so much personality and energy, he’s like a human and more entertaining than half the people I’ve met. He’s a strong soul and so determined so lets hope he can get through this.

“We know it’s not time to say goodbye, he has many more years left in him, we have to save him.

“Grandad wasn’t eating or sleeping because he was so worried. I don’t know if he would carry on without his best friend by his side. He’s distraught but so grateful for every donation. Thamesdown Vets have been amazing.”

To donate, visit