Animal Anecdote 51
As an example of the one area of veterinary medicine that can be called a down side is the subject of euthanasia. More often than not it is a kindness but there are times when a request presents a problem. When two young healthy Dachshunds were presented for euthanasia I had to know why? These were two dogs I had seen when my client had brought then in for exams, shots etc. since she had purchased them. She had died and in her will stipulated that they be euthanized and buried with her in a Milford, Connecticut Cemetery.
Of course I refused but later learned that it had been done in spite of a regulation against dogs being buried in that human cemetery. When euthanasia is questionable we often try to find reasons to spare the life of problem cases. In one such case a dog with an unacceptable personality having bitten several family members as well as a neighbor and, sadly was killed in the presence of the owner. With tears and handkerchief wringing I was asked to do the family a favor and to tell their children if they phoned that the dog was placed on a farm a distance away. Reluctantly I agreed.
From that day on I regretted my agreement to that dishonest request as the children would phone me regularly over the years to inquire as to the health and happiness of their dog. Finally the older of the children reached driving age and now the children wanted directions to the farm to see their long lost friend. I phoned the parents to inform them if they were not willing to tell their children I would do it for them. That finally ended the problem.
Another case involved a magnificent year and a half old Saint Bernard with the canine problem, Hip Dysplasia that was so pronounced that the poor dog could hardly use his back legs to hold himself up. He was in great pain with his rear swaying with each step forward he attempted. We had prescribed medication that was no longer effective and the owners had been convinced that the suffering was too much. In such cases the sadness of the owners is contagious. I wondered if there could be an alternative and suggested that I would attempt a surgical procedure that would probably not succeed but if they were willing I would perform it free of charge. They were delighted and the deed was done consisting of surgically removing the balls of the ball and socket hip joints.
It was a problem of opening the muscles to gain access to the heads of each femur and then with hammer and chisel to amputate the heads. The surgeries took me three hours and I felt like both a butcher and a carpenter. The huge canine recovered from the anesthesia and attempted to stand using his fore legs. I helped him up on his rear legs and was amazed that he seemed to me to walk better than before the surgery.
The dog was sent home the day after surgery and in a week when he was presented the owner insisted he walked much better than before surgery and the family was delighted as was I. However that surgery was so difficult for me that I never did repeat it. Years afterward the dog had to be euthanized due to a progressing cancer and I was permitted to perform an autopsy to observe the nature of the healing of those hip joints.
The pelvis had flattened out with cartilage as had the ends of the femurs to make a sort of joint that even had joint fluid in it. The dog had appeared normal in his gait and had led a normal life from the time of the surgery on.
Next time it’s for the birds 646 aords