Anna had never owned a dog until Blossom came along: she’s a rescued dog, whose owner had died suddenly. Anna’s daughter had heard that Blossom needed a home urgently, and when she arrived back with her one day, Anna felt that she couldn’t turn her away. She has never regretted the decision. Blossom is a gentle dog with an exceptionally good nature: her tail wags continuously. Anna has grandchildren, aged between two and four, who often visit her home, and Blossom is hugged, poked and prodded, but she never growls. If she tires of the children’s attention, she simply runs away from them, escaping to her own quiet place. She has been the perfect dog for a household that’s visited by young children.
Blossom can seem like a lazy dog, sleeping all day if she gets a chance, but she does love exercise when she has the opportunity. Anna lives in the countryside, and she makes a point of taking Blossom out for a long walk every day. The two of them head off for up to an hour and a half, varying the route and location. Sometimes they go on forestry walks, other times they walk around lakes and reservoirs, and occasionally they head to the coast for a beach walk. Blossom loves being in wide open spaces, sniffing around and trotting happily by Anna’s side. The regular exercise keeps them both exceptionally fit.
When Blossom started limping on her left foreleg last week, Anna initially presumed that she must have twisted her foot or sprained a joint. They stopped going for walks for a couple of days. The period of rest seemed to do the trick and the lameness disappeared. But when Anna took Blossom out for one of their normal walks, she immediately started limping again. Anna examined her leg carefully, starting at her shoulder and working down, and she managed to pinpoint the cause of the problem: there was something stuck on the underside of her left foot. Anna found it impossible to examine this properly: Blossom kept wriggling away from her, refusing to sit still. It was obvious that this was not something that was going to go away by itself, so she brought her down to the vet clinic.
When I examined Blossom’s foot, she was very well behaved. Anna held her firmly, and she didn’t seem to mind as I carefully examined the underside of her foot. There was definitely something stuck there: an object around half an inch in diameter, like a small pebble, firmly attached to the skin of the underside of her foot. It was acting like a peach stone inside somebody’s shoe. It was no wonder that she didn’t want to bear any weight on her leg.
It was only after a careful, close-up examination that I was able to work out what was going on: dried mud, grass, small stones and the fine hair on the underside of her foot had combined to form a stone-like object that was now firmly attached to her foot. I used fine-toothed scissors to gently trim away the hair that attached the object to her skin, and was gradually able to prise it away from her foot. Now that the cause of the problem had been removed, Blossom’s lameness was immediately cured and she walked normally again.
I’d love to say that the story ended like Androcles and the lion, with Blossom gratefully adoring me for curing her. As it was, she was delighted to get out of my consult room, not wanting to stay for a moment longer with that annoying man who insisted on poking her sore foot.
- Many lamenesses get better by resting an animal for three or four days
- If there’s no improvement, the cause of the lameness needs to be identified
- Animals are nearly always better behaved for vets than for their owners