Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick has often been vocal about the impact little border terrier Keira had on his life – both at home and at work.
The 53-year-old veterinary surgeon described the 13-year-old dog as his “best friend” and “confidant” since she came into his life as a puppy in 2007.
But the renowned vet revealed the heart breaking news that the border terrier had passed away last week.
It comes just 11 months after Keira was hit by a van outside his Surrey referral surgery, and Noel had to operate on her shattered pelvis himself.
Noel often posted adorable photos of Keira, and his two cats Ricochet and Excalibur, to his Instagram account.
On the most recent International Dog Day Noel shared a gorgeous photo of him and Keira, updating followers on her “unsteady but happy” state in recovery from the van incident in October 2020.
“Not a single day has gone by where I have not been thankful for the dogs in my life,” he said.
“Especially my companion Keira – even more so since the events of last year, when she had her accident and nearly lost her life, and I nearly lost my best friend.
“Thank you to those asking how she is – she is of course more fragile and a bit unsteady but happy, enjoying her old age snoozing and pottering around – hopeful for some crumbs on the floor.”
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Their special relationship was something all dog owners can relate to, as the vet reminded people to be thankful for their pets.
He added: “It was a stark reminder for me of how special this relationship we share is – so I want to encourage you all to take even more time today to thank your canine companions for the love they share with us, and thank all the dogs of the world who for hundreds of years have walked side by side as our friends. We owe them so much in return for the unconditional love they share with us each and every day.”
Noel has recently spoken of his discomfort with the term ‘pet owner’, The Express reported.
He told Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer on Channel 4 ‘s Sunday Brunch : “I do not believe that we have ownership of life. I think we have guardianship and we have the wonderment of having that love in our lives. And I think we need to ask permission to have that love in our lives.”
The miracle-working vet reiterated this on his Instagram, and said: “Thank you to everyone who has shared their thoughts and pictures in support of the message that we are #AnimalFamilies and #NotOwners – please continue to do so so more and more folks hear us loud and clear!”
It’s been fifteen years since Noel began expanding the boundaries of veterinary medicine at his practice in Surrey, with Keira by his side every step of the way. The 13-year-old dog has been described as his “soulmate” throughout his career.
The caption to this throwback photo read: “Keira – My little pal, my confidante, my calm in the face of any storm and my closest friend since 2007 x”
Like every dog owner, Noel was forever taking photos on Keira – we bet his camera roll is full of amazing outtakes.
This beautiful photo of the border terrier donning a little floral hair accessory was captioned: “Summertime – blue skies, sun and flowers.”
According to Hello, Noel is currently single and doesn’t have children, but recently opened up about hoping to find the one.
He told The Irish Times: “I’d like to marry and have kids one day, but the wife would have to know she’d always come second to the practice.”
That doesn’t stop him celebrating father’s day as a dog and cat dad, though.
How Animals Saved My Life: Being The Supervet was the book Noel wrote in lockdown, which was released on hardback shortly after Keira’s accident.
In June, he took delivery of the paperback copies, which Noel said got Keira’s “paw of approval”.
For National Best Friends Day, the 53-year-old took Keira and his two cats Ricochet and Excalibur for a walk. He posted this brilliant snap on Instagram captioned: “Who else? x #NationalBestFriendsDay ”
This still from the special episode of Supervet which saw Noel operate on Keira has been shared a couple of times on Noel’s profile.
The poignant picture was used to promote the Channel 4 special, as well as the episode of Gogglebox which had everyone sobbing.
Noel said: “Another BIG thank you for all your wonderful comments and love following the episode of #Supervet last night.
“With her abundant love, Keira reminds me every day of why I signed up to be a vet, no matter how hard it can get.
“I also want to say a big thank you to the @fitzpatrick_referrals team, who show every day their passion and compassion. I am proud of everything they do for so many animals and families, and so grateful they were there for my little girl and saved her life.”
The unconditional love between an animal and their human is remarkable. Noel captioned this selfie: “Wherever our story goes next – we know our bond is unbreakable. Thank you all so much for your love and support this evening – it means the world.”
Keira was often found at work with Noel, and fast became the favourite colleague at the surgery. Here she is perched on an office chair wearing a lanyard.
Promoting the Supervet special episode which saw the team save her life, Noel said: “Keira is unbelievably important – she’s a significant reason that Fitzpatrick Referrals exists at all. She gave me a reason big enough.”
Despite his incredibly serious job, Noel still finds time to have fun with his animals, dressing them up for Easter, Christmas and, of course, St Patricks day.
Keira looks thrilled in her party hat next to the Spring daffodils.
Updating his 271,000 followers on Keira’s recovery, Noel said: “Thank you very much to everyone who has asked after Keira. It’s deeply appreciated.
“She’s slower and more cautious now, as you would expect from what she’s been through in the past few months.
“She bears some scars of her trauma but her tail still wags with excitement when I come back into the office after every surgery – and she finds the opportunity for love and cuddles everywhere.”
Despite her injuries, the resilient canine would greed each day with a smile and treated every moment as an opportunity for joy.
The vet added: “She’s a wonderful teacher for me every day of my life and I love her beyond words.”
Noel wished his fans a merry Christmas, penning the message: “Happy Christmas to everyone from my little family to yours x #HappyChristmas ”
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Three months after her accident, Noel described every day with his dog as a ‘gift’.
He said: “It is now over three months since Keira’s accident, and it has been a really rocky road for her. She has some side effects, as we all do from life, but she is still here, and every day is a gift. Keira IS a gift who will never stop giving.”
He also thanked his followers for their support as his 13-year-old dog recovered at home, illustrated with a big kiss for her dad from Keira.
Noel said: “I am pleased to say that Keira is making slow but consistent progress – it is amazing to see her returning to her normal self. Thank you for your love and compassion throughout these last few weeks x”
This stunning shot was taken during the first Covid-19 lockdown – a time where many people found comfort in animals, and appreciated them in a totally new way.
Noel said: “This photo with my lovely Keira was taken during the first Lockdown. Spending time with her and Ricochet saved me in many ways. This year has been a challenge for all of us, and we are relying on our animal companions like never before to help us get through it.”