Accidents happen but that truism doesn’t make it feel any better.
I feel HORRIBLE. I hurt a puppy on accident, true. But still. I honestly feel sick.
The six puppies I’m fostering (until they are old enough and healthy enough to be brought back to the shelter to be put up for adoption) were running around my backyard; I had just cleaned out their pen, and was bringing a freshly cleaned and filled pan of water to the pen. I looked around, making sure my path to the pen was clear of puppies; they tend to run toward human feet. I was about six steps from the pen when my shoe made contact with a puppy. I heard a puppy shriek as I leaped/dodged as best as I could, flinging the water and the pan clear, but when I turned around, the puppy I had made contact with was still shrieking and was holding up one hind leg. My heart sunk.
I picked him up and held him to my chest, trying to simultaneously comfort him and try to see what the problem was. It didn’t feel like my shoe came down on him; it felt more like the toe of my shoe kicked him. So I was certain I didn’t crush any tiny bones; I was honestly worried that I had dislocated his hip or something. Even after a few minutes, he didn’t want to put any weight on it.
I called the vet tech from the shelter at 6 pm on a Saturday night and she’s amazing, she answered. (She knows I am fostering the puppies, and she would have certainly known I was calling about them. But after working at the shelter for probably 60 hours that weeks? She’s terrific.) She invited me to bring the puppy over to her house so she could take a look at him. I was there within 10 minutes. But on the way, I called the closest emergency clinic, to ask about their rates. Would it be any more expensive to bring him in on Saturday night than on Sunday morning? Yes, it would be more than double to walk in the door, and there would be additional surcharges for just about every possible service, including xrays. Of course, if the vet tech thought he should go right in, I’d pay whatever I needed to. I’m lucky to have a well-appointed and well-staffed emergency clinic about a half-hours drive away.
The vet tech felt all of the puppy’s bones and joints in the affected leg and couldn’t feel anything obviously wrong. She thought it could wait until morning to take him to the vet, especially since he fell asleep on her lap as she palpated his tiny legs and rubbed his tummy. (I insisted he was in shock; I know I was.)
I took him home and kept him with me on the couch until bedtime. Then I put him back with his brothers to sleep in the puppy pile.
I was up at 6 am; he was still not putting any weight on that leg, though he was cheerful and wagging his tail as he ate breakfast with the other puppies. I hung out with the puppies until 7:30, then drove him to the clinic.
The radiographs didn’t show any fractures or dislocations, and the attending veterinarian thought the problem was in his tiny hock. He could just barely visualize some inflammation (fluid) in the joint, and thought the injury involved the tarsus bones and the calcaneal tendon roughly analogous to our Achilles tendon. The toe of my shoe must have made contact right there, and while nothing was broken, the tiny little bones could have been pushed around enough to cause pain and inflammation. We discussed the pros and cons of splinting the leg so the puppy doesn’t put too much weight on it, but settled on a plan to simply keep the pup separate from his five brothers for a week or two, and keeping his activity strictly curtailed. The vet also gave me some pain medication for the puppy, to administer as needed to keep him comfortable.
As I write this, its been 24 hours since the accident, and while I am less prone to burst into tears about what I accidentally did, I still feel just awful. Puppy kicker! I keep reliving the moment. Did I not look carefully enough before I started walking with the pan full of water? Was I hurrying too much, or too distracted? I’m certainly going to be even more careful, and in the moment with these pups from now on.
Have you ever accidently hurt one of your dogs? How did you get over it?