bolt dog

Adoptable dog Bolt’s new, shorter tail looks good and he is no longer in pain.

We have all experienced that strange phenomenon where things seem to come in waves, or the old saying that things happen in “threes.” Well, for the month of June that trend was tail surgery – and it wasn’t three; it was five!

First there was Bolt, a very energetic pittie mix. After only a few days at the shelter, he developed what we lovingly call “happy tail.” He wags his tail so much he hits it against the walls of his kennel causing the tip to bleed. Normally a wrap on the tail for several days resolves the problem. Unfortunately, Bolt was not a fan of having his tail wrapped and despite bitter apple spray and the dreaded cone of shame around his head he still managed to get his wraps off. The wound kept getting worse and finally I decided to amputate his tail when it became clear that it would never heal. His facial features looked a little like a Boxer, so we made his tail end match.

Then came the three kittens – Scraps, Sagwa and Ren. They came in about a week apart. Scraps was first. About three-fourths of his tail was black and hard, meaning all of the tissue was dead and had been for a while. After surgery, the poor little guy hardly had any tail left, but then again neither does a Manx cat.

Sagwa is a beautiful little Siamese mix who came in with the last half of her tail hanging on by a piece of skin and the bone exposed. She healed quickly and was adopted within one hour of being put on the adoption floor.

Last of the kittens was Ren. He was the luckiest of the three as only about the last third of his tail was injured, so we were able to save most of it.

Finally, there was Magyver (yes, I spelled it wrong on purpose), one of my most challenging cases this year. He is a shepherd mix brought in by animal control with multiple areas of his body covered in maggots. In order for a dog to be that severely infested, they have to be weak enough to allow flies to stay on them long enough to lay eggs that will then hatch into maggots. My two techs and I got to work and it took an hour to shave all the affected areas and flush out all those gross little things. X-rays revealed he had a fractured pelvis, which is probably why he was reluctant to move to stop the flies.

The next few days Magyver’s skin felt like leather from all the scabs. He wouldn’t make eye contact and his eyes looked defeated. I wasn’t sure he was going to make it, but with medication he started to improve. Then his tail turned black and I knew the tissue was so damaged it could not be saved. So, Magyver became my fifth tail amputation. As he healed, his spirits improved and after two weeks we finally got our first wag of that stump of a tail. I was so happy I almost cried. He was finally showing us he was happy to be alive! The next day I got my first kiss on the face. He is in foster care and getting stronger every day. And that makes it all worthwhile.