Do you remember this sweet pooch, Alondra? Do you remember back in September when her leg was broken by a car and I took her to the vet for surgery? She belongs to the family across the street, but since they weren't going to get help for her, I did.
Since her surgery, Alondra has had a rod holding her femur together and she was scheduled to have it removed today. The rod was sticking out a few inches beyond her hip, and when I found out the rod would be coming out, it was like there was suddenly an end in sight. For the past three months, I've been at the vet with her at least once every two weeks, sometimes every week, for check ups. Each time, the vet would palpate her leg to feel how it was healing and each time he'd say, "A few more weeks."
So on Saturday I saw Alondra's family and told them the good news -- that the rod would be coming out on Wednesday. We left for the day and came home Saturday night to Alondra sitting, predictably, on our front porch. We let her in, fed her, and she limped off to the dog bed for a snooze. Scott's parents were here visiting last week and at some point on Saturday night, Scott's mom asked, "Where's Alondra's rod?" What? It was gone. No rod, no way, no how. Alondra seemed happy and didn't seem to be in more pain than before, although she wouldn't put weight on the leg when I scratched under her chin...she has two spots under her chin where, when you scratch in the right spot, the back leg on that side goes nuts. When I scratched under her chin on the broken leg side, she wouldn't put weight on it to let her other leg go crazy. I didn't think much about it at the time.
Fast forward to this morning. Alondra and I drove to the vet, I told the vet what happened, he palpated her leg and...ugh. It makes my heart drop just to type it. Her leg is broken again. When he pushes on the broken spot, it's like there is a joint in the middle of her femur and the bottom half of her leg moves.
"Gente," the vet mumbled under his breath. That means, "People." It's the same thing you or I would say when annoyed by the incompetence of someone who would pull a surgically-inserted rod out of a dog's leg.
"What am I supposed to say to her family?" I asked. He thought for a moment. "If you don't want trouble, don't tell them that it is their fault. Don't tell them that they didn't take care of her, that they didn't feed her, that they mistreated her," all of which have been happening, "Just tell them that the surgery didn't work. Three months!" he said. He looked defeated. I feel defeated. When you invest three months into making a dog better and, with one dumb choice all of the work is undone...I just can't tell you how frustrating it feels.
Alondra's prognosis is not great. The vet said he could possibly go back in and fix the leg but it didn't sound promising. He said it would be better to leave it, since she doesn't seem to be in pain, and see what happens. If it gets bad, he can remove her leg. She's already adapted to walking three-legged, so becoming a tri-pod would not be the end of the world for her. In fact, it might be better.
What is sad for me is that this was not my vision for Alondra. That sounds selfish, probably. When she had the surgery, I thought that by this time, I'd be able to take her to the beach with Libbie and me. I thought she'd be romping carelessly in the waves like Libbie does. I thought she'd be back out there barking at people and chasing cats. She still has happy moments, but her spirit is dampened and she's not as active as she was. She can't be. And, frankly, I'm sad. I'm sad for her. I'm sad that she doesn't get to be the carefree dog she deserves to be.
Dealing with my feelings about animals is part of living in Mexico. When you live here, the daily trials of humans who live on dirt floors without running water and animals who are nothing more than an afterthought are in your face every time you walk out the front door -- they don't hide behind closed doors or seem non-existant like suffering in most of America. I have to say, confronting it daily is something I won't miss.
Author's note: The vet who has been caring for Alondra is part of a non-profit vetrinary clinic. The organization has spayed/neutered 131 dogs and cats since mid-September, all free of charge. Each spay/neuter costs them a total of M$250, which is around US$20, and they are nearly out of money. If you'd like to help with a financial gift, please go to their website, SayulitAnimals, and give generously. They are making a difference in the lives of people and animals in this part of Mexico.