Friday, 30 November 2007

Tickle gets the boot

It's wet and muddy and miserable and we've had a terrible time trying to keep Tickle's splinted leg and foot clean and dry. There are dog boots available but of course they're dog-foot shaped and Tickle's foot is currently encased in a straight-up-and-down cast. So how on earth to protect it?

The genius solution (if I may say so myself..) is a cut-down child's wellington boot - £3.99 a pair from Woolworths. If you get the right size, it simply wedges on with no other fastening required.

Tickle's leg is encased in vet-wrap, that amazing bandage that only sticks to itself. I have a spare roll of it, so can add or subtract it to ensure a good fit for the boot.

The red fleece, by the way, is made by Hotterdog. We don't approve of clothes for dogs. Oh no - not for our rufty-tufty beasts. We got this only as an alternative to an elizabethan collar which the vet wanted Tickle to wear to foil the little witch's attempts to remodel the top of the splint. Really. And if we've also brought her a black one, too, it's only so we have a spare.

The saga of Finn's tail

We have a gorgeous red setter boy in foster with us at the moment. Finn arrived from Ireland a couple of weeks ago in a sorry old state - very thin, smelly and with a raw wound to the of his tail. Earlier this week, we thought we would have to amputate it - sad in such a beautiful boy, but tails in a strong, waggy dog like Finn often simply don't heal and the kindest thing to do is lop 'em off.

But last Sunday we finally took the plunge and let Finn off lead for the first time (in a very safe place, over a mile from the nearest road). For the first time since he arrived with us, Finn could run free. And, boy, did he run! He also poo-ed for England. Afterwards, foster mum Jan took him home and he slept the sleep of the truly-content for perhaps the first time since he'd arrived.

On Sunday evening, when Jan re-dressed his tail, she was astonished: where there had been blackness and a deep, semi-infected wound, there was now fresh pinkness. It looked 100 times better than it had just 24 hours previously. So we had a dilemma: Finn was booked in to have his tail amputated the next day. The vet had told us in no uncertain terms two days earlier that "there is no way that is going to heal". Should we go ahead with the amputation the next day or not?

Well of course not! Finn deserves a chance. And perhaps all that exercise and ridding himself of what looked like a month of compacted stools finally jump-started his immune system into action.

It's still not a pretty sight, let's face it. Foster mum Jan apologises for this picture which she thinks looks rather rude!

Now you really didn't need that mental image, did you...?

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Tickle breaks a leg...

Two weeks ago, on an unseasonably warm afternoon, Jon and I took the dogs down to the river in Marlborough for a swim (and a bit of duck acclimatisation...). Tickle only learned to swim in the summer and wouldn't win a style competition, but she's fearless. After a few minutes, she spotted some cattle on the opposite bank and swam over, leapt out of the water on to a wooden slatted pier and raced towards them, barking, totally ignoring my shout to come back. I saw her slide on the slippy wood and then she screamed - her left foreleg had slipped in between the slats. Clearly hurt, she hopped back to the bank, crying. "Well perhaps that will teach her not to chase cows" I said to Jon, not very charitably. I didn't think she was badly hurt.

Now Tickle is a gutsy girl usually (see here). She wouldn't dream of showing any vulnerability in front of strangers. But with us she's pretty vocal if she bumps or bruises herself. On a late summer evening walk a few months ago, she came hopping back to us holding up a front leg and then cried all the way home. Once home, she sat on Jon's knee and continued to cry. I was so convinced she had broken it I dragged my vet, Juliet, out of a dinner party. But it was just a sprain and within 24 hours Tickle was back to her usual self, terrorising Boz at breakneck speed round the garden.

So down at the river I thought she was putting it on a bit. Tickle is so nimble-footed I couldn't believe she had really hurt herself. But she stood forlornly on the bank opposite us, still crying. The river was too deep for us to cross, so Jon set off towards the bridge, 100 yards down river. Tickle, though, so needed to get back to us that she suddenly launched herself back into the river and swam awkwardly over to us. Jon helped her out and picked her up. She was sodden and shaking and still crying. We sped to the car and took her straight to the vet. An x-ray revealed the horrible truth - Tickle had an ugly chip fracture of the larger bone that runs from her shoulder to knee. It was three-quarters through the bone and unstable. Juliet splinted the leg and sent us home with a stern lecture about keeping her really quiet. She also gave us a bottle of ACP, a sedative which would help counter Tickle's natural tendency for mayhem.

As I write this, Tickle is on the sofa beside me, upside down and dreaming. She's doing really well - alternating between demanding cuddles from Jon (left) and hopping round the house and garden. The vet would have a heart-attack if she could see her go up and down the stairs and jump on and off the sofa. But Ticks is a smart girl. She hops around holding her bad leg up and is really careful. There have been a couple of yelps when she's caught the leg on something, or one of the others has knocked her, but she seems more comfortable as every day passes.

Thank goodness for the ACP, though. I hate having to drug her, but the alternative is worse. The other morning, before I had given her the morning dose, she was out in the garden and she came flying towards me terrifyingly fast. We have been warned by the vet that if a knock causes the fragile bone to break through, it will mean an operation and weeks of crate rest so I've been much more careful since then.

We miss our sparky girl, though. Every morning, Boz tries to play with her and he looks terribly forlorn when I have to stop him. As you can see, though, Luka is not about to give up his favourite spot on the bench for anyone. Unlike Boz, he's undoubtedly enjoying the peace and quiet. I've told him to make the most of it.