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The dangerous life of a farm collie

There are many perils and dangers associated with working on a farm, and work-related accidents and injuries to farmers and farm workers are still all too common. But the risks apply not only to the human workers; we are frequently called on to treat injuries to farm collies.

In a way, it is surprising that these injuries don’t happen even more often, but I think it is the intelligence and agility of these faithful farm servants that prevent them getting into even more scrapes. One special dog that I treated last week was Beth, a four year old collie bitch who wasn’t quite quick enough in getting out of the way of a large tractor and was lucky to survive, but paid the price with a badly fractured femur.

She was admitted at the Alnwick surgery, where vet Adam gave her immediate pain relief and intra-venous fluids to counteract shock, then X-rayed her broken leg to assess the damage. Beth’s owner agreed to go ahead with surgery, so on Good Friday I operated on Beth, assisted by veterinary nurse Emma. I re-aligned the two ends of the broken bone, and held them in place with an orthopedic plate and six screws. There was inevitably a fair degree of soft tissue reaction and swelling, both pre-and post-operatively, but Beth bore the ordeal with remarkable stoicism, assisted by a programme of painkillers. I never cease to be amazed by animals’ ability to recover quickly from major surgery, but Beth’s recovery has been truly remarkable. The day after her operation she walked out of the surgery, already bearing weight on her broken leg. And at her post-op check 3 days later she trotted in to see me with hardly a limp.

Admittedly it is early days, and there are potential complications that could yet thwart her recovery. However, if she is kept strictly confined, and not allowed to run free for the next 2 months, there is a good expectation that she will return in time to a full and active working life on the farm.


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