Name: michael clancy from bray, co wicklow
Animals: tiny, his three-year-old miniature yorkshire terrier
Problem: tiny almost died after fracturing his skull while playing in the back garden
Three years ago, two puppies arrived in the Clancy household at the same time; the family took on a Doberman called Torres, as well as young Tiny. As the two dogs grew up, they became best friends and they still love playing together. Tiny doesn't seem to realise that he's less than one 10th of the size of Torres, and he still bosses the big dog around. Torres doesn't mind; he loves dashing backwards and forwards with the little dog, playing games.
The crisis happened in the week before Christmas, when there was snow and ice on the ground. The family were heading out, and the weather was too cold for Tiny, so Michael went to call him in from the garden. He was shocked to find the small dog lying motionless in a pool of blood in the snow.
It was obvious that Tiny had suffered some sort of major trauma. Everyone assumed that he'd been attacked by Torres, even though there had never been any aggression between the two animals.
Michael tried to pick up Tiny's inert body, but the little animal started to have some sort of seizure, twitching and kicking his legs, making it impossible to lift him safely.
Michael grabbed a large towel and used this as a makeshift stretcher to carry him. He reached my vet clinic within five minutes.
At first, I could not understand what had caused Tiny's dramatic problem. It was as if he'd suffered a stroke or a brain haemorrhage; he was having one continual, prolonged seizure.
I set him up with an intravenous line, and soon calming drugs were flowing into his circulation, halting the seizures and inducing a relaxed state of sleep-like unconsciousness. I was then able to examine his body more carefully, trying to work out what had gone wrong. There were definitely no external injuries or bite marks, but the back of his skull was swollen.
An X-ray confirmed my suspicion; Tiny had suffered a fractured skull, caused by a sharp blow to the back of his head.
The blood on the ground must have come from an internal reaction to this trauma.
After talking to the Clancy family, it seemed most likely that the small dog must have been bowled over on the ice by the over-enthusiastic Doberman. The back of his head had hit a hard surface, and the damage was done.
At that stage, Tiny's prognosis was not good. I gave him treatment to reduce the swelling of his brain at the fracture site, but he remained unconscious.
Whenever the calming drugs began to wear off, he started to seizure again. It looked as if he wouldn't survive past Christmas Day.
It was not until a full 24 hours after the incident that things began to improve slightly. Tiny stopped having seizures. When Michael visited, the little dog responded by lifting his head. It seemed as if there was hope after all. Tiny was looked after at the Pet Emergency Hospital over Christmas, with a vet and nurse continually at his side. He made slow, but steady progress. He was hand fed at first, but soon he was able to feed himself from a saucer lifted to his lips.
He was connected to tubes and catheters initially, but gradually he began to regain his normal bodily functions, and the paraphernalia of intensive care was removed. A full week later, he stood up by himself for the first time, and he was allowed to go home.
Tiny has now returned completely to normal, and he's playing with Torres again. He's lost none of his attitude. From the sound of his small but loud bark, he's already keeping the big dog firmly in his place.
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