Anuk is a recent arrival in the family household, bought as company for their eight year old cross-bred Labrador, D-von. The older dog took to the pup immediately, and the two of them have become close friends. They play together, sleep together and in particular, they enjoy exercising together. Kevina takes them out for a coastline walk most mornings, heading along Killiney Beach in the early hours, as the sun is rising.
A few weeks ago, it was a particularly clear, crisp frosty morning, ideal for dog-walking. Kevina followed her usual routine, with D-von being allowed to run freely for most of the time, while Anuk was kept on the lead, only allowed off for short stretches. The older dog always comes back when called, but the pup is just in the process of being trained to come back to her name. Kevina only allows her off in areas where she knows there is unlikely to be distractions or dangers.
After walking along the beach, Kevina and the dogs headed inland, along a track that took her over a bridge, then along a path that ran along the coastline. As she walked southwards, Kevina was aware that there was a 30 foot cliff between her path and the beach below her. There was a secure, high fence between the path and the cliff edge, so she did not feel that there was any undue risk.
One of the dogs did their “business”, and as a responsible dog-walker, Kevina stopped to pick up the poop. She allowed Anuk off the lead as she did this; there were no other walkers around, and it seemed like a safe opportunity to allow her a little freedom. Kevina took her eye off the pup for a few moments as she focussed on the poop-scooping job, and she didn’t notice that both dogs had found a gap in the fence on her left. D-von was experienced enough to stay away from the cliff edge, but Anuk was filled with the exuberance of youth. The puppy bounded through the long grass between the fence and the cliff edge, unaware of the risk. Kevina shouted her name, trying to call her back from the danger. The pup heard her, and looked back – then Kevina saw her disappear from view. She had gone straight over the cliff edge. There was a thirty foot drop, with rocks and sand below.
Kevina ran over to see what was happening, but before she could see anything, she heard a “clunk”. When she was able to peer over the edge, she could see the motionless body of her puppy at the foot of the cliffs.
It wasn’t easy reaching the pup in a hurry. Kevina ran along the cliff edge, looking for a place where she could safely descend herself. She ended up scrambling down a steep slope, and jumping the last few feet. She was bruised and sore the following day, but at the time, her only concern was to rescue her injured puppy.
When she reached Anuk, the pup was still lying motionless, but she was alive. She lay there, whimpering and shaking. There was some blood on the ground nearby. Kevina took off her jacket, wrapping it around Anuk. She zipped her in, and tied the jacket arms around the pup’s body to keep her warm and secure. The pup was howling as Kevina picked her up and carried her away, but there was no choice. Kevina knew that she had to get her to the vet as soon as possible.
She phoned her husband, who organised for a nephew who lived locally to pick her up from a nearby car park. Within twenty minutes of the accident, Kevina and Anuk had reached our veterinary clinic.
A brief examination of Anuk was enough to establish that she had been very lucky. She must have hit the ground with her right front leg held out in front of her, and the lower part of this leg had taken the brunt of the force. The leg was broken, with a small wound that was bleeding. Poor Anuk was in shock, and was badly bruised along the right side of her body, but there were no other serious injuries.
She was admitted to our clinic and given the standard post-trauma treatment. An intra-venous drip was set up, and she was given an infusion of pain relief. Later in the day, once she had recovered from the shock, a series of x-ray pictures were taken of her damaged limb. The bones of the lower part of the leg were broken, but a simple treatment would be enough to fix them. Her leg was immobilized with a splint and plenty of soft bandaging, from her elbow down to her foot. She was sent home that evening, shaken but well enough to greet Kevina enthusiastically when she came in to collect her.
The splint will have to stay in place for a month, with weekly re-dressings. I expect that Anuk will make a full recovery, and she should soon be back to her daily walks. I also expect that it will be quite some time before Kevina allows her to run off the lead on her own.
- Cliffs are dangerous for dogs, just as for humans
- Young dogs are most at risk, because they have not yet learned about the danger of heights
- Vigilance is needed when taking dogs for walks, especially if they do not yet come back consistently when called