By Jarissa Aquinde, Positively Woof Rescue and Adoption Story Editor
On May 9th of this year my partner, Nic, and I were on our way to an appointment in Oklahoma City. We were driving southbound with the Capitol looming up ahead, having just finished discussing how Pavlovian techniques are appropriate for conditioning children as well as dogs— agreeing that if we were to add another dog to our family in the FAR future, we’d consider the name Pavlov. Within a minute of ending our conversation, we noticed commotion about two vehicles ahead of us. At first it was difficult to see what was happening as we were in the left lane, but as traffic began to stop, we noticed a brown blur stuck in-between the lanes of oncoming traffic, almost pin-balling between vehicles. Everything was happening really quickly, but I’ll never forget the small details of the next few minutes. There was a dog in a heap on the white dotted line between the lanes, staring in our direction with a big Pit Bull grin on her face. Regardless of her facial expression, she was panicked and could not move, as she had been hit by multiple vehicles and her back legs would not work. We stopped behind the now halted left lane traffic, and Nic and I agreed that I should help. The woman ahead of us had moved the dog out of the middle of the road, and I suggested that we move her into the median, farther away from the traffic. Nobody really knew what to do so I took charge (I had no idea what I was doing either!). Her injuries were not fully apparent but she was bleeding from the mouth and had horrible road rash and mange covering most of her body… especially in very sensitive areas. It was so heartbreaking.
Without much thought, I cleared out the hatchback trunk of the Prius and picked up the dog. She was not making noises, did not attempt to lash out, and was definitely in shock. I sat in the trunk area with her while we drove across town, and she rested her head on a pillow in my lap. I called the closest veterinarian and they referred me to a more equipped hospital in a suburb even farther away. I had to switch cars with Nic and I drove her, still in the back of the Prius, to the vet. Halfway there I looked in the rear-view and said, “puppy,” in a high pitched voice. Her ears were the only part of her I could see and they perked up at my noise. This gave me a bit of hope. When we got to the veterinary hospital they did the standard tests and put her on an IV. They also took X-rays. I am a graduate student in the sciences, and this was a very expensive surprise, but there was no way that I was going to let financial issues interfere with the life of this dog.
When the radiograph results came back, it was not great news. First of all, she was neither microchipped nor spayed, and the X-rays revealed that she had been eating trash: there were chunks of rubbish throughout her digestive tract. She had multiple fractures on both sides of her pelvic girdle and her pelvis was somewhat compressed. The veterinarian was not sure if she would be able to urinate on her own, nor was he certain about her future walking potential. His recommendation was that we allow the bones to heal with rest and see how she does in the future. I was not 100% on board with this, even though he said surgery would be tricky, and I took a night to think about our options. At no point during this whole ordeal did anyone recommend euthanasia, so that helped me to stay positive. I did on occasion imagine my future life with a special needs dog, and that was a hard pill to swallow (I already have a dog, as does my partner, and three rats… who happen to be the most expensive pets ever, believe it or not). Regardless, this dog deserved a fighting chance. As I posted about her on social media, one of my best friends in Colorado sent me a story about a dog she knew who had been in a similar situation. The CSU Vet Hospital performed a miracle surgery, and the dog made a 95% recovery. This really gave me the push I needed to seek a second opinion. As the Oklahoma State Veterinary Hospital is my go-to for my entire fur family, I asked the Oklahoma City vets if they could perhaps send the radiographs up to OSU. The next day we had landed an appointment at OSU and I loaded up the dog for the trip north. She had clearly never been in a vehicle before her accident, and she ended up finally positioned with her body on the floor of the backseat of my Jeep and her head in my lap for almost the entire ride. I’m sure I cried more than a few times on that drive from how sweet and overwhelming it was to have her life in my hands. I wasn’t sure if surgery would work, but she sure did trust me.
I had spent the past day deliberating about a name, as we had decided against “Pavlov.” She was dubbed Franklin after a beautiful historic town in Western Pennsylvania where my grandparents lived and also to commemorate Rosalind Franklin the scientist (additionally, I really love Lily Tomlin’s character on Grace and Frankie).
Frankie and I arrived in Stillwater where the veterinarian observing her case was cautiously enthusiastic about her chances surgically. I live an active lifestyle, and wanted to give Frankie the best chance at keeping up with myself and my other dog. I also was hoping to cut back on potential future arthritic conditions if her hips were displaced in the healing. Her surgery was a success with a plate installed on one side of her hip and a very large screw placed on the other. She stayed at the OSU Vet Hospital for about a week in recovery. She LOVED everyone on staff and was so excited to see the other dogs. Her walking improved, and she was able to use the bathroom on her own more consistently. What an all around relief!
We are now about 5 months post surgery, and Frankie is doing so well! She is still in her crate for recovery, and thankfully, does not need second surgery for hardware removal. Let’s just say she and her first crate were total enemies, and she didn’t do her hips any favors by pulling on the bars. We still go on short walks to the yard with a sling to support her hips, but she sure thinks that she is ready to run and jump! Within the past month she crate trained herself and only needs to go out twice a day. She has also learned to “sit” with a verbal and hand command. Frankie is a miracle, and at any point in this entire situation, one variable could have been different, changing the outcome completely. I’m so grateful that she is the sweetest dog: she loves other dogs, people, and children, although the verdict is still out on the rats!
Larry Kay is the award-winning coauthor of Training the Best Dog Ever, which became a #1 best seller in dog training on Amazon Kindle. He is Leader of the Pack at Positively Woof, which helps shelter dogs get adopted by making videos and raises awareness and funds. Larry is an award-winning dog filmmaker and has been a frequent contributor to the American Animal Hospital Association and Dog Fancy magazine.