Thursday, March 15, 2012

So much for intuition

As you'll recall, my foster dog Valentino was in rough shape when he came into rescue.  I dropped him off at a veterinary clinic on Tuesday to be neutered. He weighed in at 52.4 pounds, which is nearly a 20-pound gain since he first landed at animal control on Valentine's Day.  Now, we knew that his jaw was broken at some point. We couldn't put him under anesthesia and run x-rays because he was too thin and sick to risk anesthetizing him. The vet who saw him initially felt that the bone in the jaw was starting to callous over and that it was healing. Sure enough, Valentino has been eating well and I, too, thought his jaw was healing. When I dropped him off at the vet clinic on Tuesday, I confirmed that we still wanted to run x-rays to see what was going on with the jaw. My best guess was that the jaw was healing but that it would always be misaligned (which would account for the way Valentino flings food in all directions when he eats and the fact that his tongue sticks out most of the time).

I felt about two inches tall when the vet called me Tuesday afternoon. The x-ray revealed that the jaw had not healed even a tiny bit - definitely not the bone and not even the soft tissue. Moreover, he had a broken tooth as a result of the fracture, but she didn't want to dig around in the fracture too much. She just pulled out the fragments she could clear away easily. Dr. D said it was a clean break all the way across and that she suspected that Valentino had been hit by a car while a stray. While she had him under anesthesia, she was actually able to move the whole front section of the lower jaw (not where the jaw hinges, but at the fracture line).  I felt like total crap when I realized that this poor dog has been suffering for weeks. I should have pushed to get him in sooner and have him x-rayed once his weight had stabilized. I am kicking myself, of course. I wish I had been more observant . . . or something. I just feel like I should have figured it out.

Since the vet who performed the neuter does not handle orthopedic surgeries, I called an orthopedic surgeon and scheduled jaw reconstruction surgery right away. Valentino went back under the knife this morning. He's got a bunch of hardware holding his jaw together and I'm sure he's in a lot of pain, but he will be fine in the long run.  I just can't believe the poor guy managed to gain nearly 20 pounds WITH A BROKEN JAW. I mean, I can empathize because I don't think a broken jaw would keep me from eating either, but geez. I'm sure it's been rough for him.

1 comment:

Karen Eckberg said...

How could you have known! Don't you go beating yourself up about it. It's obvious to me Valentino is in great hands. I'd love to meet the guy!