Two Tales of Doggie Trauma

 Posted by on 29 May 2004 at 8:21 am  The Beasts
May 292004

Tale One: Abby and the Post

A few weeks ago, I was holding one of the horses for the farrier just outside the barn. As usual, the dogs were with us. At one point, Abby spotted a magpie and bolted after it at full speed. (This is standard behavior, for one of Abby’s farm dog jobs is to chase the magpies off the property. No, it’s not actually necessary or even beneficial, but she thinks it’s fun.) Normally, Abby has impeccable timing. She can leap through the bottom and middle strands of our smoothwire fence without missing a beat. This time, however, she missed. Somehow, she ran into the large wooden post on her right side.

She seemed physically okay, just a bit shaken up. Although I saw the whole action unfold, I wasn’t quite sure where on her body she hit the post, for she was moving too fast. Nonetheless, she didn’t have a head injury and her ribs weren’t sore; she seemed fine.

On the other hand, the large wooden post didn’t fare so well. Abby broke it completely in two, so that it was only being held up by the smoothwire. Really, I kid you not:

The post next to it was all askew as well. Because these posts formed a complicated corner, I decided not to try to replace the broken post myself. My fencing guy was good enough to repair the whole mess while I was away at the Grand Canyon. (Apparently, it was rather difficult, as the posts were set in concrete.)

Before the repairs, I took a picture of Abby next to her handiwork:

What a dog!

Tale Two: Kate the Artificial Dog

The day before we arrived home from our trip, our dog Kate broke her left hind femur. We don’t know how it happened, since the dogs were alone at the time. All we know is that Friday evening, when our excellent housesitter came by, Kate was simply refusing to put any weight on the leg whatsoever.

So upon arriving home on Saturday after many hours of driving, we loaded Kate into the car, drove yet another hour up to Alameda East Veterinary Hospital. (Some of you might be familiar with Alameda East if you’ve ever seen the TV show Emergency Vets on Animal Planet.) Despite the substantial pain that Kate must have been suffering, she was her usual cheerful and compliant self.

Since Alameda East is so far away, we don’t use it for our ordinary, run-of-the-mill veterinary services. However, Kate’s many orthopedic problems have long been the province of Dr. Robert Taylor, an excellent orthopedic surgeon at Alameda East. In March of 2002, he performed a bicep tendon release on both shoulders for arthritis. In May and September of 2002, he installed bilateral cementless hip replacements for hip dysplasia. All of those surgeries went well. Kate more recently developed painful calcium growths along the bones in her front paws, which were being managed well with medication. Clearly, the dog is an orthopedic disaster. (Since we adopted Kate as an adult from an animal shelter, we have no idea of her history or even how old she is. Since we’ve had her for over four years now, she must be at least seven.) Although we didn’t know precisely what was wrong with her leg this time, Paul and I figured that she was probably in need of the high level of care that Alameda East provides. We were right.

From the initial x-rays, Kate’s left femur was indeed badly fractured. It was displaced, meaning the bone on either side of the break was no longer properly aligned. The emergency vet told us that she would likely require a plate. We left her at Alameda, so that she could be properly medicated and observed. On Monday, she was seen by Dr. Taylor. On Tuesday, he installed the plate. On Thursday, she came home.

As it turns out, the break was mostly likely just some kind of freak accident. It was not any kind of stress fracture from the hip replacement because it was below the bottom screw. It was not due to weakness from bone cancer, as all the biopsies came back negative. I suspect that Abby simply knocked her down on the concrete of the garage or the flagstone of the patio. (Abby tends to leap about with little concern for the objects around her when she gets excited.)

So I’m presently stuck at home, playing nursemaid to Kate. Paul and I are pretty much living downstairs, in our walk-out basement, in order to keep an eye on her and to keep her company. (Unlike upstairs, the downstairs is carpeted and without any stairs on the way outside.) She isn’t yet putting full weight on her broken and plated leg, probably because it is still quite swollen. But she’s doing better on her short walks outside. As usual, she is cheerful and compliant.

Instead of showing you a picture of my strangely shaven and swollen doggie, here’s a picture of her in the garden. (My tulips were really quite lovely this spring.)

Let’s hope for no more orthopedic disasters! I’ve had enough!

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