The great Lucy escape – By Dr Brook

Lucy the great TAH escape artistLucy started her dog life off as “Lassie” from Belhar. She was brought into the animal welfare organisation where I was working as a vet some eight years ago in critical condition after being mauled by Pitbulls. She was highly pregnant and when I operated on her, I found that her uterus had been shredded by the ferocious attack.
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Unfortunately none of the puppies survived, her kidney was torn almost in half and now situated outside of her abdomen. I preformed a hysterectomy, sewed her kidney up, relocated it and closed the thirty four holes in her abdominal wall. She had to spend a week in hospital on a drip with abdominal drains and was miraculously able to survive the entire ordeal. When the time came for her to go home however, we could not trace her owners. Welfare policy does not allow for the adoption of injured or ill animals, with the extent of her injuries we had no idea what her long-term prognosis would be. Her fate would therefore be euthanasia after her valiant battle for survival. Unable to accept this I decided to give her a chance and took her home myself. I was not sure how she would react to my six big dogs after her attack, but she had the attitude to match their size and was not intimidated. In honor of her new beginning we rechristened her “Lucy” and she became a new member of our family.
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However, Lucy decided that she did not belong with the pack of dogs outside our house during the day. She preferred to install herself with my in-laws, who lived in a granny flat on our property. She became Ouma’s shadow and constant companion after she became sick and bed-ridden. Since Ouma passed away, Lucy is “Oupa se hart se punt” ( there is no English equivalent for this beautifully descriptive phrase). She shares his bed and his meals and they adore one another. He feeds her biltong and cookies while I am the one who gives her the nutritionally-balanced veterinary food and her injections. As a consequence, I am her less-than-favourite person, especially when I load her into my car, which she knows inevitably means a trip to the practice.
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Last week Lucy began urinating in the house, something she had never done previously. I initially assumed she was just being naughty with the onset of the very cold weather, but after a few days I decided that I had better do a more thorough veterinary investigation. So off to work we went; In order to collect a urine and ascertained sample I had to prick Lucy with a needle. The results indicated she in fact had a bacterial cystitis. Pricking Lucy with a second needle I administered the antibiotics, only adding insult to injury. Lucy was by this point thoroughly disgruntled, back in her cage, she spent the remainder of the morning plotting her revenge.
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As I prepared to take her home, unbeknownst to me she was planning to stage her great escape … Jumping from my arms and hot-footing it out of the work’s parking area, she then raced into the rush-hour school collection traffic. She headed off down the middle of the road at a steady trot. Dressed in my Tygerberg Animal Hospital jacket with the neon orange logo clearly visible I chased after her in hot pursuit. Luckily for me she eventually decided that I had been sufficiently humiliated and wandered over to the grass verge where she then waited for me to collect her. After all, she may be blonde, but she’s not stupid; she was not about to exchange the comforts of Oupa’s down duvet for life on the streets.
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I’m still left trying to decide what is more mortifying as a TAH vet: clients driving past and thinking I had been negligent in letting one of our patients escape, or them knowing that it was my own dog trying her best to escape. Of course I learned my lesson … a dog should always be attached to a leash when at the vet, whether you’re a vet or not, absolutely anything can happen … mission accomplished, Lucy!
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Lucy the Dog
Lucy, the great TAH escape artist

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