‘This is my lottery victory’
Hayley Tindall and Toy Poodle Fifi represented England at the World Agility Open Championship in the Netherlands, where the pair beat off competition from some of the best dogs in the world to claim a top prize.
Hayley and Fifi have been competing in agility for almost seven years, travelling to competitions around the UK and Europe.
But this is the first time they have scooped an award - and Hayley says it would not have been possible without her donor.
She said: “The importance the transplant has had in this medal...without getting the transplant there’s no way I’d have been able to do this.
“The kind gentleman who put his name down, I’m quite thankful to him and his family.
“I did everything I could to say thank you.
“He’s made my wish come true.
“It’s still not sunk in.
“This was my ultimate goal.
“This is my lottery win. It changed my life.”
Hayley, 37, ended up needing a kidney transplant after a bad reaction to a typhoid vaccination she had aged 19.
The mum-of-two said the majority of her friends are now on the donor register - and she would encourage others to do the same.
She said: “In 2001 I had a typhoid injection and I reacted really badly to it.
“Over a number of years my kidneys were gradually deteriorating.
“In 2005 I went into hospital with really bad headaches, being sick all the time and they said I had low kidney function, close to renal failure - at 23, just before getting married.
“They told me stuff to change - my diet and how to look after myself.
“I lasted another eight years on my own kidneys.
“In 2013 I got a transplant.
“I’d just got back from an agility show when I found out there was a donor. I had to ask a few times who it was on the phone - I never dreamed I’d get a kidney.
“The consultant said he was from Leicester but it didn’t sink in.
“I set off to the hospital and was there within three hours.
“I got there at 9.30pm and had the transplant at 8.30am the next morning.
“I didn’t have time to think about it.
“The moment I woke up I immediately looked better and felt amazing - I used to sleep a lot.
“Agility was a hobby for me to do while waiting for a transplant but afterwards I could run quicker.
“I don’t think I would still be doing it if it wasn’t for the transplant.
“I said this year the goal was to get a medal because she’s [FIfi] nine and I don’t know how many more years I’ll get with her.
“I went out there to get a medal and I did.”
And Hayley already has her sights set on more medals.
She said: “I’m already on the team for team England for next year - my aim will be to do better than a bronze.
“You’ve got to strive for better, to get silver or gold.
“My husband is really proud - he tells all his friends how amazing we’ve been doing.”
Administrator Hayley first got into agility after a woman in her village suggested it.
Hayley said: “I got Fifi and then one of the ladies in the village said she did agility training and asked if I was going to do it with her.
“I said I didn’t think I could do it but I went to a show and I got addicted and began to get quite good at it.
“I like that it keeps me fit and it’s fun. I like the social side - I’ve met quite a few new friends through agility.
“It’s also improved our relationship as pet and owner - we have a close bond.”
The agility competition is made up of two rounds where points are accumulated and the handler and dog who achieve the most points wins.