Today we visited a bone specialist vet linked to the Poitiers university veterinary department, for a second opinion on Polar's leg. Polar didn't go alone, his playmate Bracken went with him.
Dr Guillon concurred with what the Pepis Vet said and also my local vet yesterday with regard to his diagnosis.
The decision on the way forward for Polar is not one I feel I can make, since so many people have cared about this delightful little galgo puppy from when Pepis Refuge first published the appeal about him.
To recap, he was born in February 2013, in April 2013 he was abandoned at Pepis Refuge. He had a mobility problem in his near hind knee. Alan and Jane Brian took him to see their vet and also a specialist, who x-rayed his legs and advised them on a way forward.
In the meantime, MOH and I had taken the little chap into our hearts and understood that, if he were to have an operation, it was asking a lot of Jane and Alan to cope with a small puppy in convalescence, with over 50 dogs to care for in the refuge. Added to that, Jane then became ill and was admitted to hospital for diagnosis and treatment.
Polar arrived with us on 7th June. I took him to our vet that evening, who was standing in for the bone specialist vet who was on holiday.
On 11th June Polar and his x-rays from the Spanish vet were examined by the bone specialist vet at my local practice in France. After considerable in depth conversation - he speaks excellent English - he advised he believed the injury to Polar's leg had happened in the first couple of weeks of his life and been ignored. His recommendation was not to operate, as there was no guarantee that Polar's mobility would improve and the after-care could cause him frustration, distress and muscle wastage. If no operation then arthritis is likely to set in and that is treatable to ease the pain. If the pain became too much, then amputation of the hind limb would be necessary.
On 12th June we travelled to Poitiers to see Dr Guillon, who also speaks good English to add to our understanding of what he described in French also. After examining Polar's leg and x-rays he too, independently from my vet the previous day, said he thought the injury happened in the first couple of weeks or so of Polar's young life.
After a great deal of time spent examining the x-rays, Polar's leg, a lot of thought, he said an operation could be performed. He writes 'it is a medial patelan luxation with femoral deformation' if this means anything to those with more medical knowledge than me!
What he would do is fit 2 circular plates around the leg below the knee and above the heel with 4 screws between each. This would have the effect of trying to stop the rotation of the bones in the knee off the femur bone. Polar would require 3 or 4 further operations after the initial one, about every 3 months, to unscrew the screws as his leg grows.
I believe this is what the Pepis Vet was advising as a possibility, as she said that 3 or 4 further operations would be required after the initial one, as Polar grows.
So what are the implications of all this?
Polar does not know he is disabled. He runs around the courtyard playing with Bracken; He jumps up onto the sofa or chair to sleep; he behaves like a normal galgo pup jumping up at the worktops looking for food; he walks with a bad limp which is distressing for us but does not distress nor hamper him.
The outlook if he is not operated on. Within a few years arthritis will set in to the leg and joint and this can be treated with anti-inflammatories to control the pain. I already use a natural pain reliever on my retired lame horses and I will carry out further research on what natural products are available to help Polar if we go with this decision. Ultimately, in the distant future, if the pain became too much, the leg could be amputated high up.
The outlook if he is operated on. There is no guarantee that the operation will ultimately improve his quality of life. It would be traumatic for him to have about 4 operations during the course of 18 months of his life - he's only 4 months old! Convalescence with a leg in pins will not be easy for him. We would do whatever is necessary to ease it for him. An older dog I know of coped with both his front legs in metal braces for 6 months. But here we are talking about a 4 month old puppy, still growing.
If the operation is 'successful', it would not make a great deal of difference to his life/mobility and the vet believes he could eventually carry the leg. As it has already been broken, then arthritis would eventually set in, needing treatment. Worst case scenario - amputation.
The quote for the operation is 2,000 euros, including the further operations to unscrew the screws as he grows. The cost of the operation is not an issue for us. We will do whatever is necessary in the way of fundraising to raise this money.
So, what I need from you all, who have taken this little boy to your hearts, is what you think. Do any of you have experience of hind knee operations on puppies or even older dogs?
Do we say 'go ahead with the operation' in the hope that it might have some sort of success in improving Polar's mobility for a restricted space of time.
Or do we leave him to get on with his life, a happy little galgo with a deformity. He doesn't know he's handicapped, he probably thinks this is how all galgos move!
Either way, arthritic pain is in store for him which can be controlled one way or another with medication - veterinary or natural. Hind leg amputation is inevitable if the pain becomes too much.
This decision is not ours, this decision is a joint one with all of you who care about the little galgo pup who is Polar!
Both David and I will be grateful for your input to help us decide the best course for Polar, this adorable little 4 month old galgo - yet another survivor of the blasted ignorance and lack of care and action by a Spanish galguero. I curse him!
And I'd like to add two things.
1. This little boy Polar is with us for the rest of his life, whatever it takes to make it comfortable and enjoyable for him. (I'd rather have him than a lot of the nasty people in the world!)
2. David WILL STILL be doing his parachute jump over the Ile de Re, La Rochelle, France, in July 2013 (date yet to be decided0, for which he will want lots of sponsors, whether it is to help pay for Polar's operation, or to help Pepis Refuge who work tirelessly in difficult circumstances to save all the abandoned puppies and dogs chucked at them over the fence and tied to their gates by the uncaring Spaniards in the area of Pedrera, Sevilla, Spain.