The odds may have been stacked against them but a Market Rasen duo have risen to the top - in the world of dog agility!
Hayley Tindall and her toy poodle Fifi are getting set to represent England at the ‘Olympics’ of dog agility - having undergone three major operations between them.
Fifi came into Hayley’s life seven years ago - purely as a family pet.
Now, she has shot to the top of the class in dog agility, having won championship competitions and competed at Crufts.
Mrs Tindall said: “Fifi didn’t come into my life as an agility dog but I went along to a show and was hooked!”
Fifi started her training soon after but disaster struck when she started to squeal and hop in pain.
Mrs Tindall added: “We took Fifi to a chiropractor who said she needed her knees checking.
“We were referred to a specialist in Doncaster, where we found out her right knee needed to be operated on to mend the joint socket.”
Fifi then underwent a lengthy rehabilitation process.
Mrs Tindall said: “She was a ‘handbag’ dog for six weeks as she wasn’t allowed to walk!
“I then built her up slowly with walking - but the same thing happened to her other knee.
“We had to go through the whole process again!”
When Fifi was fully recovered, it was back to training and competing again.
But the duo faced another obstacle - because Mrs Tindall was in need of a kidney.
She said: “I was tired all the time.
“I found myself constantly napping in the afternoon.
“I got the call to say a kidney was available after nine months of waiting so I was incredibly lucky.
“Getting the new kidney totally changed my life, without it I would not be doing what I’m doing now.”
Around half a year after her operation, Mrs Tindall and Fifi started competing - attending Crufts competitively the following year.
Mrs Tindall said: “We moved up the levels really quickly.
“I still can’t believe how good Fifi is.
“We’ve had two years on the trot at Crufts.”
Now, the pair have been selected to represent England at the World Agility Open Championships in Holland next year.
“We never thought we’d get to this level,” said Mrs Tindall. “I’ll put it this way - I never thought I’d need to get a pet passport!”