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Julia’s Weekly Midsussex Times Column – Look before you leap

Bringing a new meaning to the phrase ‘Look before you leap’…

One of our previous doggy patients – Benga – had to be carried into the Clinic after what should have been a lovely walk on the beach. Her loving owner had enjoyed watching this delightful little Schnauzer running over the sand and hopping over the groynes one after the other.

Then the oddest thing happened. She popped over a groyne, the last in a very long run of them, and just disappeared! Her owner thought he heard a slight cry, so he ran towards the spot, preparing to leap over the groyne himself.

Some instinct stopped him just in time. He looked before he leapt, unlike Benga, and found he was looking down at her at least 15 feet below him. She had fallen all that way, and had obviously hurt her front leg and was waiting to be rescued.

Her owner scooped her up and started the long walk back to the car with her in his arms. Finally they arrived back in Mid Sussex and came in to the Clinic. I was suspicious that she had dislocated her wrist in the fall, and took some X-rays to confirm that nothing was broken. We felt she was pretty lucky to have only harmed one front leg, and grateful that her owner had not leapt over too!

Optimistically I sent her to a veterinary orthopaedic specialist to see if he could repair the torn ligaments and put her right. Sadly, the injury was so bad that instead he advised an arthrodesis.

This is the process whereby the surgeon deliberately changes a bend-and-straighten joint into an inflexible non-moving extension of the bones on either side. This meant for Benga that she could still stand & run on her damaged front leg, but not have any pain from it. It took several months of bandaging and rest for the damage to settle down, but she coped with all this like the trouper she is.

Years later she is still the delightful, playful little character that used to love jumping over groynes. Her front leg moves a bit oddly, but she has an excellent life. I just hope that she has learnt to always check where she is going to land before taking off in future!

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