Hopalong Hound

At 9 years old, (63 in dog years), the last thing Rufus should be doing is chasing rabbits. Unfortunately, when the rabbit calls, Rufus is honour bound to answer. Thus it was on Betws Mountain last Tuesday night, as we were returning to the car after watching the sun set over the distant Mynydd Preseli. A rabbit popped up out of nowhere, surprising Rufus and I and before I could stop him, he was off chasing it. Rufus kept within a couple of feet of the rabbit until it started turning to throw him off. As I stood trying to call Rufus back, they circled me. At one point the rabbit was heading directly for me and I had an image of Rufus crashing into me and us both going over. But the rabbit swerved again and Rufus followed. This must have gone on for about 30 seconds or more – it felt like minutes. In a straight line, I think Rufus would have caught the rabbit but the turns were too much for him.

Suddenly, I heard him yelping and he pulled up, limping to favour his back right leg. I did a quick check over to see if there was anything obviously wrong. In particular, I was worried about a fracture as I would have to carry him back to the car. But he let me examine his leg and there was no obvious injury. So we slowly made out way back down to the car and judging by the way Rufus was reluctant to leave, pulling on the lead to follow the scent of the long departed rabbit, it wasn’t too bad an injury. I assumed an overnight rest and some TLC would sort it out.

The following morning, he still wasn’t right and I could tell he was in pain as he tried to walk. So a trip to the vet was in order. Rufus struggled down the steps to the car but still wanted to go for a walk along the street. At the vet, he was diagnosed as have torn his cruciate ligament. It’s the bit of us that holds the knee joints together. I had a similar but less serious injury of this ligament which forced me to postpone my Kilimanjaro climb.

Although there was an option to rest it and let it heal naturally, this would take a long time and risk damage to the joint. Rufus is an active dog and keeping him quiet and inactive for the healing time would be difficult. And every time he didn’t rest, it would risk making it worse. So I agreed for him to have an operation on Monday to repair the ligament.

He’s a fit and healthy dog and I’m not too worried about him. I’m more concerned with his ability to let the leg heal. Since he’s been to the vet (and is on pain meds so in no discomfort) he has gone up and down the stairs with little problem, discovering the best way to balance and in the process giving me heart attacks as he wobbles and threatens to take a tumble. He won’t wait for me to go down in front of him. He hops up and down the garden, ensures I know when he’s hungry (which is all the time as I’ve reduced the amount of food he has as he’s not exercising, and I want his weight down so that his one good back leg has an easier time). The one thing I can’t do is take him for a walk, although he dragged me down the steps to the street on Thursday night and we did stroll up and down the pavement for a couple of houses either side of mine.

He follows me out into the garden too. I like to keep an eye on him but he’s getting his confidence back and I don’t really need to be there. This morning, I took some macro photos of the insects on the hedge but Rufus got bored and went back in to rest.

I suspect he will be a difficult patient after the initial post operation period is over. The vet will give me a 6 week recovery programme of exercises for him to do. I haven’t explained this to Rufus yet – I’m waiting for the right moment.

Post script – by Rufus

I could have had the rabbit. Easy. I was toying with it. But Dave yelling at me distracted me. The knee hurts, but hey – wounded in action! When he took me to the vet, they gave me weird drugs and everything went psychedelic for a while. When I came to, I was back home. I love watching Dave’s face when I charge down the stairs. It was hard getting used to the balance at first, but now I know what I’m doing, I even fake a wobble now and again to hear him swear. I think I might enjoy the next few weeks!

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Bored now

Following on from yesterday’s post, I’m making a real effort to rest up today but it’s very hard. I had to pop to the bank earlier, and I managed to pick up a couple of books in the local bargain store. My copy of ‘Outdoor Photography’ turned up as well, so there’s plenty of reading material to keep me going. But I want to be out in the sun.

I’ve just been out in the garden. Just looking, no gardening. And I was joined by the little bird that watched me digging up the spuds a few weeks ago. She was within touching distance again. She started of on the ground but jumped up into a branch to be on a level with me. She was eyeing up the lens of my camera and I half expected her to jump on it. It looks as if she’s a young robin; a very friendly one, and possibly a little too curious for her own good.

Then I spotted a speckled wood butterfly (I looked it up) resting in the sun on the hawthorn bush. So I managed to get a couple of photos of that too. All without moving more than a few yards. It’s the closest to resting I can manage.

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I got home early this evening. I’ve been feeling rough all week and rather than my usual stroll with Rufus followed by Curry Night and kwality kultural experiences courtesy of Lovefilm (other DVD rental companies are available), the best I could do was a chair on the patio in the sun. I have some good books to read at the moment (thanks Em) and I have to admit it was nice in the warm sunshine. But I missed my usual Friday night fun.

I could feel my eyes getting tired so I put the book down and just listened to the birds and the gentle breeze. There’s a thrush singing away in the tree at the top of the garden at the moment. It must be courting time again. Bees buzzed around me. I could see all sorts of flying insects dipping and diving through the hedge and bushes nearby. Then I looked up at the sky and saw huge thunder clouds forming in the distance. I love watching clouds and these were quite spectacular.

As I watched, the clouds slowly drifted across the sky. So slowly that they’re still not completely covering the sky and it’s more than an hour since I was sat outside. It’ll be raining in a few minutes, though.

That’s it. No struggle through knee high snow, no frantic barking for another stone/stick/treat. No precarious mountain top and definitely no ‘this time last year’.

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