(Warning, this article contains photos of injury x-rays which you may find upsetting)
Margo was born on 8 June 2018, from my litter of 11 puppies I kept her (Bardonhill Love of My Life) and her sister Meggie (Bardonhill Somebody to Love), all named after Queen (the band) tracks. Margo is very much the extrovert of the two. Meggie being sweeter and quieter bitch altogether.
From about the age of 5 months it was obvious that Margo would be first to take out into the show ring as she had a natural ability and enthusiasm to show herself off and also, (at the time) the better coat of the two. She was 6 months old on 8 January 2019 and, over the next 4 months attended several Championship and Open Shows gaining several 1sts and qualifying for Crufts 2020.
Thank goodness we had no idea about the devastating event that was about to follow……
On 20 May 2019 several of the setters were out in the field playing together when there was an almighty scream from one of them. We rushed down to the bottom the field (passing all the other setters who were deserting the place in a great hurry at the first sign of trouble!) to find Margo lying on her side still screaming in pain. She was completely unable to stand up, even on three legs, so Ian had to pick her up and carry her from the very bottom of the big field to the house. We took her inside but were unable to ascertain what had happened at all. When we stood her up one hind leg was hanging and we feared she had completely dislocated her hip somehow in the fracas.
A quick call to our vet and we were immediately on our way to see what had happened. She told us that it looked like the leg was broken and not a dislocation and that she would anesthetise and x-ray her hind leg to see exactly what was wrong.
The resulting x-ray was truly upsetting and we were told that, really such a bad break diagonally across the femur may mean that the leg may need to be amputated. (Amputation in a setter is something I, personally, wouldn’t accept for such a lively breed)
So, there we were in the Veterinary surgery, faced with the most heart-breaking decision of what to do. Margo was in so much distress it didn’t seem fair to bring her out of the anaesthetic to suffer more.
There was. However, one possible solution offered to us by our own vet – that we take a referral to another Veterinary Surgery in Boston the next day to see if anything could be done to repair the leg.
I think that it was one of the hardest decisions we have ever had to make. Our vet left us alone for a few minutes to make the decision whilst Margo was still under the anaesthetic. My gut feeling, (which I always listen to), was to not let her suffer and end it there and then. However, Ian felt that it was worth waiting just one more day to see if anything could be done at the referral vets
In the end, and despite my own grave doubts as to the outcome, I agreed that is what we would do, so an appointment was made, and a heavily sedated, Margo was taken home.
We were dreading the next day and all the while the lyrics of the Queen track ‘Love of My Life’ came ringing back. I hadn’t really listened to them closely before when I named Margo and the rest of the litter but the words were so true.
By morning, Margo was able to stand by herself with difficulty but, of course, not able to move, she looked pitiful and was obviously still in a great pain.
We carried her outside for a toilet and then set off to the referral Veterinary Surgery, Allen, Briggs and Turner, the other side of Boston about 45 minutes away..
When we arrived we were so relieved when we were greeted by a familiar face and found our appointment was with Derrick Carpenter a vet we knew from another practice we used when we lived in Boston.
Derrick looked at the x-rays that our vet had sent to him and said ‘I can fix this’. The first bit of positive news - I am sure you can imagine how thrilled we were to hear him say that.
He took Margo into surgery for more x-rays and to start repair of the leg and we were told to phone later in the day.
When we returned, incredibly, Margo walked out of the surgery to greet us.
Looking at the x-rays before and after you can see how expertly Derrick repaired the broken femur successfully. The third photo shows the wound on Margo’s shaved hind leg.
I wish I could say that we were out of the woods after all of this but, unfortunately, Margo was found to be allergic to the painkillers and started vomiting. The painkillers were changed but she was still allergic and then stopped eating altogether. In the end we had to abandon the drugs and hand feed her. She lost an enormous amount of weight over a few weeks and many, many, times I wondered if I had made the right decision by going through with the operation
Finally, a few weeks later, and just when she was recovering, she managed to catch the leg on a slightly open drawer in the kitchen and wrench one of the screws apart. This prompted yet another emergency trip to the vets for more x-rays. This time the damage was slight, just a bent screw which Derrick said would not affect the healing process so nothing further had to be done again.
As the warm summer days continued, Margo became stronger and stronger. We kept her confined to a small grassy area for several weeks whilst the bone knitted together. She went for her post-op x-ray check and all was okay and healing well.
Gradually she began to run again and we could see that she was no longer even slightly lame. We waited for her coat and feathering to all grow back again over several months. When it got to November 2019 you could hardly see the difference in coat length on her hind legs. She had re-gained all her weight and her condition returned ….
It was time to think about showing again
In January 2020 she went back into the show ring for her first show since her operation. I was quite worried as she had been getting very nervous on the veterinary visits. However, I need not have been concerned as she jumped into the van to go and arrived with tail wagging at the venue. Of course she could tell the difference between the vets and a show!. She gained a very respectable 2nd in Yearling Bitch and she got very excited. She just loved being back.
An incredible result for an incredible girl and a day we never thought we would see.
Her show career continues....
We had no idea what had happened to her on that fateful day and can only assume there had been an almighty collision between a group of them all and Margo had landed underneath.
With sincere thanks to Derrick Carpenter M.A. Vet.M.B. P.G.Cert.S.A.S. M.R.C.V.S., and our own veterinary team at Witham View Veterinary Surgery.