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September 22, 2012

‘I heard one of the dogs squawk in the middle of the night…did you step on Bunny?’ I asked.

‘No…I stepped on Jo.’

I paused. ‘Then why is Bunny limping?’

‘Beats me, what‘s going on?

‘She’s not putting any weight on her left front leg, and she even won’t even let me touch it.’

‘Did she fall?‘

‘I was hoping you’d know…’

‘Sorry..I wish I could help, but I have to get back to work. Do what you think is best. Gotta go,’ Jim answered.

The little white pooch limped across the room on three legs, as if to punctuate her problem. I’d watched her all morning and her condition hadn’t changed. If anything, she was worse. She hadn’t put an ounce of weight on that leg. Something was wrong here and I had a decision to make. It was Tuesday, my day off…did we continue to watch her for the rest of the week, or should I take her to the vet today? A glance at the calendar confirmed a very busy week. And Bunny looked like she was in a lot of pain. So I made the call.

And, as I suspected, they told me to bring her in. Of course. What did I expect them to say?

We had four dogs, all Pomeranians, and they were always playing, tumbling over one another. Racing upstairs and down. Many times a day. We’d often hear them skittering around the bed upstairs, then tearing up and down the hall before coming back down the stairs and running circles around the Lazy Boys.

But this morning, Bunny Rose was hurting. She wouldn’t let me touch her leg, shrieking whenever I tried.

So I took her in. And during the exam, she stood stoically, bearing weight on all four legs while she endured the exam, all the while giving me dirty looks.

Dr. Hansen palpated her leg, from her shoulder right down to her toenails. And the little brat said nothing. Not a bark, a squawk, or a whimper. Nothing. No facial flinching or grimacing. No attempts to nip the vet. Hmmm.

With a lighter wallet, we returned home, none the wiser. At least I didn’t have to pay for an x-ray.

‘She might have twisted it when she was playing with your other dogs…don’t let her jump off furniture for a few days,’ the vet said.

So we put the baby gate across the doorway, with her on one side and the rest of the pack on the other. Nothing to jump on. No dogs to rough house with. She was safe.

And two days later her condition changed. Now she was favoring two legs…the left front and right rear. What was going on here? Now her gait was really awkward. But she was managing…barely.

Turns out God had a really good reason for giving dogs four legs to walk on …it just works better that way.

Besides her ambulation problems, she had now developed a cough. Without making eye contact, we watched as she struggled to sit, awkwardly balancing on one front leg and the opposite hip. Then she’d cough and look our way. And cough again, checking to see if we were watching.

And her appetite was gone. Normally, she clammored for a front row spot as we filled their dishes, but that day she stayed on her pillow in the corner, across the room. Just what was happening here?

So now the poor thing had two bum legs and a bad cough. And no appetite. Pretty dramatic.

With the weekend looming large, I once again called the vet. And she laughed. A lot.
‘Ignore her,’ she said.

‘What?’ I thought. ‘Ignore her? How was that going to help?’

‘She might get worse before she gets better, but I really think that‘s what she needs. Don’t pay her any special attention. ’

Did dogs do that?

‘If you pet her, pet another dog with the other hand. If you pick her up, hold someone else in the other arm. Don’t separate her when you’re gone. Absolutely, nothing special for her. That’s what she needs.’

We were skeptical, but we’d follow orders. Nothing else was working. It was worth a shot.

The following morning as we got ready to leave, Bunny limped toward her laundry room sanctuary. And again, I put the baby gate up, but this time I blocked her on the other side with the other dogs. ‘Doctor’s orders,’ I said, and walked out the door.

And by the time we returned home, she was cured. All four legs worked, the cough was gone, and her appetite was fine.

We learned a valuable lesson…psychology wasn’t just for people anymore.


From → Dog Stories

  1. I swear dogs are a lot smarter than we give them credit for! This is one for the books, tho. She was one smart Pom!

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