A GRANDFATHER who is fundraising for a costly operation for his dog has described the pet as his 'lifeline' and 'guardian angel.'

Peter Hutchings, from Garsington near Oxford, lives alone with his Staffordshire bull terrier Bruce.

The 77-year-old has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise £3,000, to correct ligament damage to Bruce's right hind leg, which is not covered by his pet insurance.

Mr Hutchings said: "He has absolutely brought my sanity back. I was very lonely and he has completely cured me. I've never had a companion like it.

"He's made an enormous contribution to my life - he's made me a thousand friends while we've been out walking.

"I know people will say 'he's only a dog' but he's not, he's a wonderful friend. I don't know how I would cope without him - he's my lifeline."

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Although Mr Hutchings has a son and daughter, they both live abroad and Bruce is his only companion at his home.

The six-year-old dog is in pain and without the surgery, could have to be put down.

Bruce had to have the same surgery on his other hind leg, which was covered by the insurance, but the company said it will not pay out for the other leg.

Mr Hutchings praised a 'brilliant' visiting surgeon at Hilltop Vets in South Hinksey.

He added: "The recovery period was very tricky as you have to prevent them doing anything strenuous, but the repaired leg is as good, if not better, than it was.

"His strong leg does most of the carrying, propping him up. The other is well and truly damaged."

He explained there is a less costly procedure that can be done to address the pain in the short term, but the leg would likely still deteriorate.

He added: "I've tried all sorts of ways to raise the money. I took him to the vets and they said he is in pain, so I have got to do something about it."

Mr Hutchings has had Bruce for five and a half years, and described him as his 'guardian angel' who has even helped him to walk off his type 2 diabetes.

He said Bruce's condition, called bilateral cruciate disease, was partly the result of lots of enthusiastic running around fields.

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He said his daughter's insurance company paid for the same operation for her own dog three times 'without quibble,' but his own has a different policy.

Mr Hutchings retired aged 70, having worked long days as a chauffeur.

Before that, he used to run a printing company, which went bankrupt after problems with a costly piece of machinery.

Generous readers have already helped Mr Hutchings towards his target, after a brief report in the Oxford Mail on Wednesday.

He said: "I'm ever so pleased with the way it's going. I'm a glass half-full kind of person and like to think we'll get there.

"People have been so incredibly kind and generous.

"Somehow, I've got to do it."

He said despite the breed having a reputation for being aggressive, Bruce is well-liked in the village.

Mr Hutchings added: "He's hugely popular with children here, he's got a considerable fan following."

To donate, search gofundme.com for 'Bruce's vet bill.'