By ALEXANDER LAWRIE
THE family of a toddler who had his face ripped open by a passing dog has revealed they will have to wait up to a year before finding out if he is scarred for life.
Mum and dad Craig and Barbara Osborne have opened their hearts about their fears after one of their five-year-old twins was savagely attacked by a dog last month.
Little Andrew Osborne was playing just outside his home in Easthouses, Dalkeith, Midlothian, last month when the dog lunged at him – tearing a gaping wound in his right cheek and lip.
Barbara, alerted by the youngster’s horrific screaming, rushed outside to find her young son covered in blood.
The distraught mum said her house resembled “a murder scene” as she tried to stem the flow of blood from her young son’s face, and trying to call for an ambulance at the same time.
Andrew was quickly ferried to Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital where, over five harrowing days, he underwent three delicate, plastic surgery operations.
Surgeons were forced to insert 34 stitches in the little lad’s face as they expertly repaired the damage.
The dog which had escaped from its owner’s garden, was finally traced by police two days later and had to be destroyed.
Craig, 37, and Barbara, 35, have now spoken about their ordeal and their worries after being told by doctors it will be up to a year – and Andrew facing possible further surgery – before the extent of the injuries will be finally known.
Barbara said: “Because of the depth of the wound it now has to heal inside and outside.
“The tear was almost right through the inside.
“It takes a year for the scar to get to its full strength, which is about 80 per cent of your normal skin’s strength.
“Once that year is up we have to go back to the hospital because there are two bits causing concern. The worst part is that the scar has come on to his lip which will affect the line of his lip.
“To us it looks horrible.
“But it could have been way, way worse. We are aware of that.
“For me, the worst thing is that before this happened I had identical twins – but I now have twins separable by a scar.
“That just breaks my heart.
“Hopefully, because he is so young, the scar will shrink as he grows and it won’t be as noticeable.
“Whether or not he’ll need more surgery, I just don’t know. I’m really praying not.”
The horrendous attack on May 19 happened as Andrew and his two brothers, five-year-old twin Matthew and Jamie, eight, played just yards from their front door.
The normally good-natured dog, which had grown up around its owner’s grandchildren, lunged at the blonde-haired five year-old for no apparent reason, tearing his cheek wide open.
Worried mum Barbara was alerted to the incident by Andrew’s desperate screams.
She said: “We had just come back from a holiday the day before and I was doing all the washing, getting the house back to normal and the kids were having a great time playing outside.
“I kept checking on them, but then I heard Andrew screaming. There’s a cry, and there’s a scream – I just knew something was wrong.
“I rushed out and at first I just thought he had fallen because the blood was coming from his nose – but it was then I saw this bit of his face just flap off.
“I was hysterical. There was blood trailing in behind him and when he came in the house there was blood on the floor, the door and all over me.
“It really looked like a murder scene, actually.
“I went into automatic pilot and phoned 999 right away. Those minutes felt like forever, but I later found out they were here in only three minutes because the station is pretty closeby.
“Everything was moving in slow motion.
“But, I thank God for the ambulance service because they were amazing.
“The doctors and nurses at the hospital could not have been any better. They kept us informed because we stayed there for the whole week. We just couldn’t leave him.”
Andrew was kept in hospital for four days where surgeons performed two face-saving operations, with a third operation on the Primary One pupil carried out the following week.
The brave tot’s two brothers, who both witnessed the vicious attack, have also been left scarred – albeit psychologically.
Barbara said: “Jamie was blaming himself because he is the oldest and he felt he should have protected his little brother.
“But we’ve reassured him it’s not his fault because nobody could have predicted what happened that day.
“Andrew’s twin Matthew can’t stand the sight of blood and just went absolutely silent – he still really hasn’t spoken about it yet. He’s just clammed up.”
And the brave Midlothian couple have also admitted they do not hold any grudge against the dog’s elderly owner, who lives in the same village.
Craig said: “We don’t know who she is and to be honest we’ve no inclination to meet her.
“But, at the end of the day, she’s lost a family pet – everybody’s lost something here.
“We hold no animosity towards her because dogs do sometimes get out of gates. It happens, and it looks like it was a one-off for the dog.”
The owner of the dog, who wishes to remain anonymous, has spoken previously of her anguish and shock after being informed by police that her dog was to blame for the attack.
The grandmother-of-six said: “I couldn’t believe it when the police arrived on my doorstep late on Tuesday night.
“They asked to see Pip and when I brought him out he just lay on his back wanting his tummy tickled.
“I was close to tears when they told me what had happened earlier that day, it was totally out of character for him.
“Our back gate was unfortunately left open that day and he got out for about 20 minutes. He seemed fine when he got back.
“It is so out of character for him and he’s never done anything like this before.
“I’ve got pictures of him playing with my grandkids – I really thought he would never harm anyone, never mind a child.
“I’ve wanted to go and see the family to tell them how sorry I am, but I was advised by the police not to.
“I’ve got kids and grandkids myself so I can appreciate what the family is going through, I’m deeply upset about it all.
“We’ve had dogs all our life and this is the first time anything like this has happened, but we’ve now decided that we won’t be getting another one.”