When Sue Oomen's German shepherd contracted tetanus as a 3-month-old pup, she didn't think he'd live to see his first birthday.
But after three months of "near sleepless" nights and constant care from his owner, Bruza was nursed back to health and is having a do-over of his "puppyhood" at the age of one.
Mrs Oomen of Masterton has bred dogs for 55 years and said she's never seen a fighting spirit quite like Bruza's.
"I noticed something was up with his head when he was 3 months old," she said. "The ears were so taut that it looked like they were tied up in a top-knot.
"So I took him to the vet and they gave me a horrible verdict that he had tetanus, and there wasn't a good outcome for that."
Bruza contracted tetanus after playing in the dirt while teething. The vet treated Bruza with antibiotics and antitoxins but when the pup was sent home, his condition worsened.
"Bruza was flattened. He looked like he'd been run over by a car," Mrs Oomen said.
"So after that I looked after him for three months by feeding him baby food and chicken soup. He couldn't walk, and I'd turn him side to side, do all the things I thought I could do to help.
"This went on for three months but I was not giving up on him."
Mrs Oomen took Bruza out for regular easy exercise and gave him colloidal silver, looking after him the way she would look after a person. Now Bruza is completely recovered, and has just turned one year old.
"He's a bouncy boy now because he didn't have his childhood really," Mrs Oomen said.
"It's like a child that's been in hospital and finally gets out. He never would have lived without the constant care. I could tell. He was really bad."
Since being on the mend, Bruza has made a name for himself among neighbours as a "careful watchdog", after he barked to notify neighbours of people who were stealing their car.
"He is a bit of a different dog because he is very embarrassingly observant," Mrs Oomen said. "He watches everything that everyone does and he's such a good representative of the breed."
South Wairarapa Veterinary Services vet Craig Nicholls remembers treating the pup last year and said "Bruza was lucky he had Sue, really".
"It was a little bit touch and go, but Sue did really well. I called in once on the way home from work a couple of months after he had come right, just to see how he was going, and he was running around like a normal dog. He's an awesome dog."