A Three-Legged Journey

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Mary Eleanor Tezak writes, “Come here Laken!” I yelled to my dog as he came crashing down the hallway, paws flying.

“Come here Laken!” I yelled to my dog as he came crashing down the hallway, paws flying. This dog is a Chinook, a rare breed of sled dog that pulled Admiral Byrd’s sleds on an expedition to the South Pole. These dogs are very active dogs used as running partners, sled dog, and a warm friend. My dog used to run and pull a little until he lost a leg. One day, three years ago, my mom was dropping my little brother, Mac, off for swim team practice. Her plan was to walk Laken around the park after she dropped Mac off. This plan was foiled. Just as the car door opened, Laken jumped over Mac’s lap to get out. When his retractable leash hit the ground, it made a loud snapping noise and Laken was off. He ran across a four lane street and about midway through it he got hit by a car. He kept running. He ran for a quarter mile until my mom finally caught him and took him to the vet. The vet examined Laken and said nothing was wrong. Life went on and Laken was perfectly healthy. About three months later, his paw started to bleed. He limped and licked his paw all day. IT was winter then so we suspected it was the cold cracking his paw. Laken went around for a while in little snow booties. Unfortunately, this didn’t work, so we took him once more to see the vet. The vet thought it might be allergies, so he prescribed new food for Laken. This did not work either. This went on and on. We got a ton of ideas from six different vets. Some thought it was a foreign object such as glass in his paw. Others thought it was cancer. During all of this Laken underwent two surgeries to try to solve this issue, but nothing worked. That summer, we took our annual vacation down to a family camp in New Mexico. While wewere there, my mom was talking to a friend who happened to be an eye doctor who worked with humans. During this conversation Laken’s paw issue came up. My mom told this story to the doctor and he had an idea. He told her that sometimes when people are hit by a tremendous force their veins and arteries are damaged in a way that can lead to external bleeding. My mom mentioned that Laken had been hit by a car and the doctor said that that could do it. When we got home we went to yet another vet. This one was up at CSUVeterinarianSchool. He looked at Laken and took a CT scan. He told my mom that this was the second case of arterial venus fistula that he had seen in twenty-five years! It turns out that the doctor was right. To solve this issue Laken was going to have to be surgically operated on. The plan was to first try to fix what was wrong and repair the veins and arteries. If this didn’t work Laken’s leg would be removed The day of the surgery my mom got a call, the first procedure hadn’t worked, Laken was going to go from having four legs to three in one day. On pick up day we were waiting in the waiting room and I was thinking about how Laken wasn’t going to be strong or energetic anymore. I was way off. I looked up to see three-legged Laken pulling the nurse down the hallway at full speed. Laken’s recovery took a few weeks. We all had to be gentle with him and give up some of our t-shirts as bandages for him to wear. In the end, he was fine. Sure he can’t run far of pull anymore, but he can still be a loving three-legged friend. He gained a little weight, but soon he burned it all off because we got him a new friend. Our new puppy, Abbey, keeps him on his feet. Now when call Laken I get a dog on all threes hopping towards me with a new friend tagging along at his feet.

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