When Lulu came in to see me this week for her annual health check, Jenny reminded me of the long and complex saga that she went through as a puppy.
Jenny had bought Lulu from a dog breeder when she was just ten weeks of age, and she knew as soon as she brought the pup home that there was something seriously wrong with her. The puppy was continually dribbling urine, and was soaking wet under her tail. She was able to squat and pass urine normally, but as well as that, there was constant, low grade leakage of urine. Her bed was soaked whenever she stood up after resting, and she smelt strongly because of the continual urine soakage. As well as that, she was drinking far more water than normal for a young puppy. Jenny brought her in to see me straight away.
I knew what was wrong with Lulu at once: she must have been born with a congenital abnormality of her urinary system. Normally, urine is produced in the kidneys and passes down to the bladder through tubes called “ureters”. The urine is then stored in the bladder until the puppy decides to pass urine, and then it all floods out at once in a controlled way. When a young puppy continually leaks urine, it means that there’s something amiss with this system. The most common cause is a problem called “ectopic ureters”, where one of the tubes from the kidney enters directly to the outside world, instead of into the bladder. This means that urine is passed into the pup’s environment continuously, at the same rate as it’s produced by the kidney.
Ectopic ureters are a physical, anatomical problem, and the only way that they can be cured is by complex reconsructive surgery. This can cost thousands of euro. When somebody has just spend hundreds of euro on a new puppy, it’s difficult to consider doing this.
I explained the situation to Jenny. Lulu had been born with a problem that needed to be fixed, so she was not a fully healthy puppy. I wrote a letter for Jenny to give to the breeder, explaining the situation. It was my opinion that Jenny should be able to hand the pup back to the breeder in return for a full refund.
When Jenny went back to the breeder, she was given a difficult choice: he would take the puppy back and refund her money, but he wouldn’t have the pup treated. Instead, she’d just be euthanased. While this might be understandable for economic reasons, Jenny refused to consider this. Lulu was an adorable puppy, and she deserved to live. Jenny came back to me and we discussed the options.
The reconstructive surgery was a specialist procedure that I wouldn’t be able to do myself. Lulu would have to go to the veterinary hospital at UCD. I contacted the professor of surgery at the time, and as luck would have it, he had a fund reserved for deserving cases that involved interesting and rare surgery. He agreed to give a significant discount on the normal surgery fee. Jenny then spoke again with the breeder, and he eventually agreed to give her a refund even without being handed back the puppy. This meant that Jenny could use the purchase price towards the cost of the surgery and with the discounted fee, this made it just about affordable.
Lulu’s surgery went well. Her internal anatomy was delicately rearranged so that the misplaced tube from her kidney was redirected upwards, opening into her bladder, as it was meant to do.
Lulu made a full recovery. No more leaking, and a dry rear end. Thanks to Jenny’s dedication to that unlucky puppy, she has gone on to have a long and healthy life.