We decided to take our daughter and two fur-baby's to the park Sunday afternoon for some family fun, fresh air and a good run for the dogs. We took Brooklyn in her little tikes wagon (which she loves riding in), stopped for some iced coffee's and headed to the park a few blocks away. The weather was beautiful and Brooklyn was enjoying the swings and the slides while Roxy explored some trails independently and Deja followed some scents with that nose of hers. Chris and I usually bring dog treats with us to the park and then at some point we will both stand on opposite ends of the field or park and let the dogs run back and forth between us for treats. It EXHAUSTS them, they love it and it's pretty entertaining to watch! So that's what we did but since Brooklyn was playing in the park, Chris was out in the field and I was in the park with Brooklyn. The park itself is enclosed by a 1 foot wood partition to keep all the bark maltch contained etc.
Roxy had been running back and forth for a while and then all of a sudden (and remember she is a boston terrier and she hauls butt when she runs........she's usually the fastest dog at any given dog park!) she misjudged the height of the wood partition and smacked into it at 30 mph!!! She hit it so hard that it knocked the wind out of her, broke her arm instantly and she was screaming like a hyena!! She was in absolute agony! I ran over to her and I could see that her arm was dangling freely out of her shoulder socket. It was loose and flacid and she was panic stricken! I picked her up and we headed home. She was fine while I carried her the 3 blocks home but as soon as I put her down she was yelping and screaming. Of course it happened on a Sunday and everything in town was closed so we got our neighbor to watch Brooklyn and Chris and I drove 40 minutes to the nearest 24 hour emergency vet clinic in the next town. It was pretty much $300 just to get in the door. Who knew a pet clinic that ALREADY PROVIDES emergency services would charge you "$60" because this is an "emergency" fee in addition to the exam fee (which is standard or course) $40, x-rays $170, sedation $90, pain patch $90, splint $100. Roxy was in a lot of pain so they gave her an injection for that and about 15 minutes later, she was laid out on the exam table....but at least she wasnt yelping in pain anymore.
Shortly after the medication kicked in, they came to take her away for x-rays. When the vet came back, he said it was broken and it was the worst kind of fracture a canine can acquire! They called it a "butterfly" fracture because in order to fix it, it is major surgery where they would use pins and plates on either side of the bone. The break was right above her elbow joint which made it even more difficult to fix and only an orthopedic surgeon could do it (the vet helping us didn't perform bone surgeries (only soft tissue surgeries) so he paged the orthopedic surgeon who looked at the x-rays the vet texted him on his iphone and said it looked like a complicated fracture so he headed home to open the x-rays up on his computer to get a better view. He phoned us back and we spoke with the surgeon over the phone directly. He was currently a resident (he still had many years of surgical experience though) but was not yet board certified and due to the complexity of the surgery, he himself disclosed he was not confident in performing the surgery therefore, referred us to a specialty clinic that had 2 board certified surgeons that did this type of surgery all the time. By this time our bill was already $600 and we hadn't even fixed the problem yet! He said he could do it for $2500 (but I didnt want a hack job done for cheap, only to have arthritis problems down the road and possible complications due to his lack of experience.
By this time it was 10pm so they splinted her broken arm, doped her up with pain meds and we took her home. Chris and I had to decide very quickly what we wanted to do. I wanted a second opinion at this highly recommended clinic however once I got home, I googled that clinic and all their prices were posted on their website. It was going to cost us another $250 just for the consult and the surgery was twice as much than at the first clinic. These guys charged almost $5000! We had some decisions to make rather quickly.
I spoke to my brother in Saskatchewan and he reminded me that city vets are notorious for ripping off city folk and encouraged me to call around to some of the more rural vets for prices and opinions. Everything is more expensive in BC than in SK.
We were torn between surgery and amputation because there are pros and cons to both obviously. Surgery has no guarantee's since she fractured it in such an odd spot but they did say arthritis was a guarantee in time. There were also no guarantee's on how functional that leg would be for her post op and if she would still be able to run the same. So we were trying to decide whether or not 3 healthy legs were better than 3 legs-plus a defective fourth one?!?!
I phoned the prestigious vet clinic that we were referred to and they said whether we had the surgery or amputated, it was $4500 regardless! We didnt even bother going to that clinic after we were aware of the cost and it seemed astronomical (especially with TWINS on the way and all the costs these baby's will create very shortly). We phoned the SPCA who gave us a list of local vets. The second vet I phoned said I could email their vet Roxy's x-ray photo's (we had them on CD-Rom) and he could tell me our options over the phone free of charge. Of course my MAC pooped out on me and kept opening the files in codes so I asked if I could bring the x-ray CD to their clinic. She told me to bring the dog and my x-rays and they would give me a surgical consult. We had 15 minutes to get there for their only open appt. so we dropped Brooklyn off and took Roxy to this other vet. Hallelujah, they were great!!! The vet was such a nice guy and laid out all the pros and cons to both our options. He was supportive of whichever decision we made and their prices were far more reasonable. The staff were sympathetic and compassionate and the vet even brought in one of his staff and her little tri-pod dog on three legs to show us that three legs are no big deal for canine's! Dogs adapt much quicker than people do. The surgery cost $1000 (it pays to shop around and do a bit of research).
The whole team at this clinic were great and we have now found our new long-term vet for both our dogs (we moved here last July so we hadn't picked a veterinarian yet).
After we decided to go with an amputation (many tears shed on both sides on this decision) they performed the surgery and phoned us at home once it was completed. It was just such a sad day because it's not like Roxy did anything wrong to acquire this awful injury.....she didn't run out into the road and get hit by a car or get attacked by another dog... I mean she was running at the park having the time of her life! So innocent, so sad and really, just a freak accident!!!!!
The surgeon phoned us to say she did well through surgery and that we could pick her up the next morning. We were also told she needs to lose at least 5 lbs (which we were aware of, lol. She always ends up eating our older dogs food too if she's too slow or so much as looks in the other direction.
We picked Roxy up from the vet this morning and my expectations of what she would look like turned out much better than expected. From a nursing stand point, her surgical incision looked clean, well approximated and perfect really. No exudate (ie. drainage, no puckers or lumps etc). She tried to walk across the room about 45 mins after we got her home this morning but fell on her face a few times before I could get to her fast enough to help her hold up her front end. She is a very active dog so sitting still is not her style. She has already taken many steps on 3 legs. She even jumped up on the couch before we could stop her and then she followed me after I went upstairs to check on our daughter and she made it up 4 stairs to the first landing...ultimately spilling onto her face though! Silly girl is supposed to be taking it easy for a few days but I can see she wont be idle for long and I'm willing to bet she walks a lot tomorrow with little assistance. We just have to keep her away from any stairs until she's heeled up. They said recovery can be anywhere from 1-2 weeks. She is such a trooper though and already trying to get from point A to point B. She's doing great! I just wish her breathing wasnt so labored from the trachea tube they inserted down her throat when they intubated her for surgery because it has caused her to be quite congested and irritated her throat a bit. I can hear some wet secretions in her chest so hopefully it resolves soon because I can tell the congestion, coughing and occasional sneezing is causing her anxiety. She cant really breathe out of her nose very well and boston's have a squished snout to begin with so if they aspirate or have to be intubated, they can struggle to breathe like they normally would until it resolves.
Im just so HAPPY that she is still with us.....and as the vet put it, "Dogs come with 3 legs and a spare", ha ha.