Thursday, May 3 2007
As dogs go, our Eleanor is accident-prone. She's always got some new scrape or bump, or else maybe she's been freshly-quilled by a porcupine. Such things come and go, but she's been hopping around on on her left hind leg for a week now, so Gretchen thought we should get it checked out. Today I took her to our vet in Hurley, in the rambling green Victorian on the northwest side of Hurley Avenue near the Ulster Town line. A couple years ago this particular clinic undertook a massive expansion of its facilities, walling in the porch and adding a new wing, though it will probably take a serious outbreak of Lyme Disease before their granite bill is paid off.
I took both Sally and Eleanor both into the clinic and the examination room, though neither were excited to be there. Eleanor, who is the more fearless of our two dogs, seemed to be aware that we were there because of her and not Sally, and she was trembling like I'd never seen before.
The vet started his examination at Eleanor's toes and worked up to her right knee, and it was here that he found what he suspected her problem to be. Her knee joint felt unstable to him, as if it could be slid back and forth like a desk drawer. As we all know, a knee is supposed to be a stable pivot, with no ability to slide. The vet thought that Eleanor had torn one of her knee ligaments completely through. Then he showed me a handy model of a dog knee. The suspected torn ligament lay inside the joint itself, and was called the cruciate. It's a cross of ligament fibers (thus the name) holding the femur firmly to the tibia. A torn cruciate ligament is a fairly common injury in athletes and active dogs. Unfortunately, though, fixing it would require $1200 in surgery. The repair includes the installation of a bionic ligament made of nylon. According to the vet, if this operation isn't done, Eleanor will be lame for the rest of her life and the knee would eventually become arthritic.
The vet sent me home with a bottle of anti-inflamatory medication to talk the matter over with the wife.
I stopped on the way home at the flooded lowlands across Wynkoop from the Hurley Mountain Inn to gather freshly-deposited Esopus Creek silt (one indication that you're living in the Catskills — as opposed to a neighboring region — is that you consider dirt valuable). While I filled buckets with soil, Sally searched the area for burrowing rodents and Eleanor just stood around. She's been noticeably less active since the injury, though she did attempt to chase a cyclist the other day (only to be stopped by the invisible fence).
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