Farm dog Shep’s in the wars again

This week has been interesting and even entertaining and probably a little bit stressful.

I have found myself in challenging situations – both physically and mentally.

I have been tired, confused, happy and proud. It is this point I should point out it is Tuesday and my week started exactly 34.5 hours ago.

The entertaining part involved assessing a swan that was brought to us. It had been rescued and was not well. Initial assessment was unrewarding and the swan seemed outwardly well.

I wondered what to do next – if it was a car I thought a test drive would be needed. Luckily we have found a way to do this.

The hydrotherapy treadmill that Nicky, our hydrotherapist, uses to help dogs with musculoskeletal injuries, post-op recoveries and weight loss, is extremely popular. We had to squeeze in between her appointments and fill up the tank. The swan was put in the tank and we could assess that it was able to hold itself in the water and paddle with both its legs. The tank is not very long but once the treadmill was on it creates a current that the swan has to paddle against.

We put some pellet food in the water and it spent a happy half hour paddling and feeding. At this point a few of our trainee nurses were watching and wondering what we were doing. To us it seemed normal but on reflection, how many vets give a swan hydrotherapy?

The stress escalated when a farmer’s collie came into us not using its left front leg.

The particular dog, we shall call it Shep, has previously fractured a back leg, had it fixed, broken it again and had it repaired again. It dislocated its carpus – wrist to you and I – and had to have a plate put in to stabilise the joint.

On the plus side, this dog seems to be a healing machine and after every injury goes back to full fitness and works well.

It is at this point I should point out that a food farm collie is an extremely valuable piece of kit.

A well trained one which works well is a famous prized possession. This explains why Shep has been pinned, plated and stitched back together so many times.

This time Shep has broken two toes under the plate. To aid the healing process we have removed the plate. A stressful surgery involving DIY – removing screws and plates, avoiding tendons, blood vessels and muscles.

Fingers crossed Shep makes a full recovery this time and we will just have to wait and see what the next accident is and hope that it involves one of the two remaining good legs.

There’s nothing like a stressful surgery to raise the temperature in the room.

It’s fair to say our work experience student is having a great introduction into what being a vet in a busy mixed practice entails.

By Director and Farm Vet KATE MATHESON