Broken puppies and the cone of shame

Two days ago, my son called me from his sister’s phone. I was at work, neck deep in some project that seemed important at the time. It was forgotten when he told me why he was calling.

“I think Jasper dislocated his shoulder.”

Jasper, as you may recall, is our 7 month old puppy. He has an endless amount of energy, and is ready for more when we’re wiped out from playing. His favorite person is my 12-year-old son, Lucas, and he perks up whenever Lucas is in the room.

Jasper monthsIt seems that this time, he and Lucas were racing around the house when Jasper took a tumble down the stairs and landed on his leg. When he cried out, Lucas knew something was wrong, and got his stepdad from upstairs. Together they took the dog to the vet to see what could be done. Meanwhile, I stayed at work, barely able to concentrate as I waited to hear the verdict.

Long story short, the dislocation ended up being a bad break in his humerus bone, just above his elbow. We spent $400 on x-rays to find that out, and then another $50 on pain meds to keep him comfortable. He wasn’t able to have surgery until the next day, so my husband and son were sent home, and my dog had to endure the pain all night long.

Jasper1I was afraid to know how to touch him when I got home. He looked up at me with his big eyes, the pain he was feeling written all over his face. My normally excitable dog could hardly muster up the energy to greet me. I knelt down to his level, and he pushed his head into my lap so I could love on him. He hobbled on his three good legs, dragging his bad one wherever he went.

Later in the evening, I tried to take him out to potty before bed. I managed to carry him outside, but brushed against his broken leg. He yelped in pain, and lashed out at me. I put him on the ground, but every time I came close to him, he’d bite me. I didn’t know what to do. I felt so helpless. It was 30 degrees outside, and getting colder, and I couldn’t get him to come inside. So I did the next best thing I could think of.

I cried.

And then I left him there to come in on his own accord. Seems broken puppies are more resilient than us puppy mamas would believe. He hobbled back up those steps on his own and waited to be let in at the door. There was no need to pick him up at all.

I slept on the couch that night so I could be near his crate. I didn’t get much sleep at all. I heard every whimper, every sigh. And at 4:30 in the morning, I got up with him to let him pee again. He didn’t want to go back in the crate, but wanted to sleep on the couch. But I couldn’t let him get up there, fearing more damage to his leg. So I made up my bed on the carpeted floor, and he curled up against me. He snored for another two hours, I stayed awake and felt him breathe.

The next morning I took him to the surgeon’s office. I didn’t try to pick him up this time. I put the leash on and gently led him toward my car. Despite his injured leg, he was excited about the prospect of a walk. He got in my car with hardly any hesitation, and I helped hoist him up successfully, without hurting his leg. And I drove the short distance feeling every single bump in the road, worried that he was being jostled too much.

Puppies, however, are resilient. Once we got there, I helped him back out of the car. We got in the office, and suddenly Jasper sprang to life. Here was a new place, with great doggy smells, and lots of friendly people! His tail moved from between his legs to an upright wagging position, and he sniffed every single corner of the office. Once the vet came out, Jasper made quick friends with him by chewing on his Citizen watch. The vet was wonderful, sitting on the floor with the dog as he checked him over. Then, he led him away, and I left the office on my own.

Jasper ended up getting surgery yesterday afternoon. There had been some question about whether he would or not, since there was a lot of swelling. But I was relieved when I called and learned he was undergoing it at that moment. It meant he would be free from the excruciating pain, and on his way to recovery sooner. He was to spend the night there, and I could pick him up in the morning.

It was strange to be home without Jasper there. We’ve only had him for 4 months, but it’s hard to remember what life was like without a dog. Quiet, yes. But no one greets you like a dog greets you when you walk in the door. The cats, however, were ecstatic. They sniffed around to see if the mangy mutt was hanging around their kingdom. And when they saw he was gone, they danced around the house.

This morning, my husband and I met at the vet’s office to retrieve our pup. We could hear him barking up a storm in the back room. And when we mentioned we were Jasper’s owners, the vet tech laughed and said, “Oh, yeah, Jasper.” The way she said it let us know that our puppy had unleashed all his “charm”. We got a taste of it when we heard him continue to bark the entire time we were there.

After a showing of the x-rays (it was an awful break, mended with a metal plate. The dog will forever have trouble with TSA from this point forward….), some instructions on medication and care, and signing away $3300 more for the surgery (yeesh), we got to finally see Jasper. He came out hobbling, but much sturdier than he was before. And he earned a new piece of jewelry for his bravery (check out that cone!) He was obviously happy to see us. He started to hop up, but we got him to stay down as best as we could. It was a challenge to get him out of the office with a room full of interesting dogs!

I got him in the car, took him home, pottied him, and then let him up on the couch to sleep. That was almost two hours ago, and he’s still asleep.

I can’t help but feel like I failed “puppy owner”. We’ve had the dog for 4 months, and already broke him. Adding salt to the wound was my stepson’s retort that we could have spent the money on puppy training instead of this vet bill. There was never enough time. And now, I’m waiting hand and foot on a puppy who has a hard time remaining calm in any situation.

The challenge will be to encourage calmness with him, as the vet suggested (though if he sleeps like this…). For the next 3-4 weeks, he’s also not allowed outside unless on a leash with us. Things are about to get interesting. We both work full time job out of the house, and Jasper normally hangs out in the back yard while we’re gone. We can’t do that now. So he’s going to have to be crated while we’re at work. It’s going to take some juggling as we figure out potty routines and coordinate care among the five of us in this house. But, that’s what you do when you take a dog in – they become a full member of your family, breaks and all.

Ironically, I argued with my husband when we first got the dog about the increased expenses we’d have. He told me it would probably cost us about $10,000 a year to keep a dog.

“Are you crazy?” I argued. I added up the cost of his immunizations, and how much his bag of food would be. “I’ll be surprised if we even reach $1,000,” I told him.

I am eating my words right now.

To close, we have set up a Go Fund Me account, which is both embarrassing and humbling to admit. We are lucky enough to have a Care Credit card we could put this unexpected expense on. But almost $4,000 to mend his broken leg is a lot of money we’re going to have to pay back. So far, friends, family, and strangers have donated a total of $380 to go towards Jasper’s care. I am in awe of the generosity of others.

If you would like to check it out, go here —->

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