Claire – by Gabby Fringette
You may or may not know Claire, the black Australian Kelpie, and Cooter’s ‘little sister’. Well, she’s a smart doggy, a very suspicious, paranoid and independent hound. She’s a medium sized dog with a foxish, expressive face. It’s one of the many things I like about her. However along with her very strong sense of independence, comes her sense of rebellion. Our new house doesn’t have a fenced yard, and the driveway opens onto a semi-busy road where people speed. Just three days after moving up, even though we were already trying to train the dogs not to go on the road, Claire got it. She tends to be indecisive, and because of her inky black coat, she’s hard to see in the shadows.
Eight in the morning, someone comes to the door. Dad answers it, I’m just minding my own beeswax. I assume it’s probably another neighbor come to welcome us and compare us with the old residents. But I heard the man at the door say he hit our dog. Well, crap.
I went into the kitchen, assuming that it had been Cooter, who is not a bright dog. Claire was standing on the porch next to the guy, and she was holding her paw funny. She came inside, and lay down on the floor by my feet. I started to gently pet her down, trying to see if she had broken ribs. The only thing that seemed to be wrong with her was her injured paw. Dad thanked the guy for coming to the door and telling us, and then he went to call the vet and tell them we were coming.
Claire was freaking out a little. She kept trying to stand but I wouldn’t let her. We were on the landing for the front door, and for the stairs to the downstairs where the dogs slept. Claire decided she absolutely needed to be with Cooter, but I wouldn’t let her go down the stairs because it would probably get her hurt. She did get up and go to the door. I thought she had to pee, so I unlocked the door. The front door’s deadbolt sticks, so you have to really manhandle it. Claire used this opportunity to bolt down the stairs, and slide the last three stairs. Cooter wasn’t downstairs, and she howled until I let him in.
We got her to the vet in town, they took her blood pressure, her temperature, examined her, and x-rayed her. She had a compound fracture of her left front leg. They kept her overnight to put the cast on her. When we came to get her the next day, she wouldn’t come out of the kennel until the vet tech left the room and the rest of the family moved out of her line of sight. I crawled into the kennel with her, and only then was she comfortable enough to sort of bounce out. They had me put a muzzle on her so they would remove the I.V. Though they said she wasn’t being ‘mean’, she was aggressive and thoroughly sick of them. They gave us pills to give her twice daily, and we took her home.
She quickly adapted, and became a little addicted to getting cheese twice a day. She’d bounce around, hobble around outside, but was afraid to go near the road. Obviously.
Oh, but it doesn’t end there. When we brought her back a week later for a checkup, and the vet found that the leg was infected. They would have to amputate. We’d be leaving her overnight again.
By the time they actually called us to come and get her, she’d been in their care for more than 24 hours. They almost decided to keep her yet another night for observation, but we discussed it and decided that she’d be more comfortable at home.
She was still very, very drugged when we brought her home. Her leg had been amputated to the shoulder, and she had an ugly, oversized doggy tank-top on to cover the bandage. Under the tanktop, most of her left side had been shaved.
At 2:30 am, she became more lucid, and very obviously distressed as to the loss of her leg, and began whimpering. I came and hung out with her to reassure her. Then again at 5:30. By 8:00, she was able to eat her pills. We got her to drink water.
It wasn’t too long after that she was hobbling around on her three legs. She was eating and drinking. By day three, she’d managed to remove her bandage. The wound extended far above where the leg had been, there was a long, eight or ten inch cut where they’d removed the muscles that would have connected to her leg. It was sutured up with blue plastic sutures. I re-bandaged it. For the next week, I gave her her pills, took her outside to walk around, bandaged her wound, watched for infection.
But as almost always happens, we were most worried about her mental state. She was very reserved, and hid. A lot. Keeping in mind that you cannot see her if she’s in the shadows. I eventually learned where all of her hiding spots were. She’s still recovering, it was a traumatic event. But so far, at least, she’s been very resilient.
By the time the sutures were removed, she was able to go up and down stairs with ease, and though still timid and shocked, she was recovering well. It’s been about five weeks since the accident.