Marty Johnson wasn’t sure where to turn when his “best mate”, adopted greyhound Buster, was severely injured when attacked by a Bull Terrier cross at his first visit to dog friendly Parkdale Beach.
When the owner of the other dog did a ‘runner’, Marty was left facing a hefty vet bill, that as a disability pensioner he was simply unable to pay.
A former long-term Crown employee, Marty hasn’t been able to work since being involved in a car accident in 2017, suffering significant physical injuries, including two spinal fractures and a broken shoulder, while also left dealing with severe psychological trauma in the aftermath.
Adopting Buster has been a life-changing and in many ways life-saving experience for the Hampton Park local.
“It’s hard to put into words what Buster has done for me,” Marty said.
“I know it sounds over the top, but we’ve saved each other’s lives.
“Buster didn’t actually race, but he was training to race when he broke his leg. At the same time, I was going nowhere after my accident. I was just getting worse and worse.
“I was in a terrible way – PTSD, depression, anxiety, the whole lot.
“I was sleeping the days away, but when I got Buster, I started getting up at 7.30am and taking him for a walk. Being responsible for Buster taught me that you just can’t think about yourself. That’s selfish.
“The other big thing was I went through COVID with Buster. It was like a treat to get out once a day with him. I don’t know how I would’ve got through it without him.”
Devoid of options to meet seven-year-old Buster’s emergency veterinary expenses, Marty reluctantly asked for help on Facebook.
Close friend Annemarie Troath then organised a GoFundMe support, which had an initial target of $4000, but which has subsequently risen to $5000.
When Healesville GRC Manager Cynthia O’Brien heard about Marty’s predicament, the community-minded club leapt to his support, pledging $500, which is to date the most significant donation.
“I read the story in our local newspaper, Star News, and thought we can do something here,” Cynthia said.
“I thought that as a club, it was the right thing to do and I’m happy for Healesville to take the lead.
“We can still support Buster, even though he’s no longer racing and hopefully help him get back to living his normal life.
“If Marty would like to come and spend a day at Healesville, we’d be happy to arrange it for him.”
Much like Marty after his accident, Buster is now in the process of healing, both physically and mentally, from his ordeal, his recovery enabled by the widespread support from friends and the wider community.
“After what happened with the owner of the other dog, the support I’ve had just reinforces my faith in humanity,” Marty said.
“I’ve never asked for money off anyone, but I’m on a disability pension and there was no way I could pay for Buster’s operation and treatment.
“I look down the list of donors and I don’t know this person and I don’t know that person. People I haven’t seen for ten or twenty years have donated.
“I’m just very lucky so many fantastic people have rallied around me because I can’t imagine not having Buster around.
“I’ve never had kids, but Buster has shown me what I imagine it would be like!”
To donate to Marty and Buster’s GoFundMe appeal, go to http://bit.ly/3APFXvY.