May 7, 2001 Regular visitors to this site will probably
remember the trouble we had with our two Mute Swans last
summer. We were not able to find a new home for them before this
year's breeding season rolled around. Consequently we've faced several
months of intense harassment from our male swan, Mr. Big. Humans and
Great Danes aren't his only target. In February Mr. Big drove way two
of his three offspring that were hatched last June. We were sorry to
see them go because they were very pleasant (unlike their father) and
quite beautiful. One
day they simply flew away after a particularly aggressive attack by
their dad. We have no idea where they landed but we hope they found
a good home on another pond. The remaining juvenile swan is a female.
Mr. Big tolerates her presence, but he has strict rules about where
she is allowed to swim on the pond and when. In late March Charlotte,
Mr. Big's mate, built a nest and deposited four eggs. She began "setting"
six weeks ago. The eggs should have hatched at the end of week five,
but they didn't. One lone eggs remains in the nest and Charlotte refuses
to give up on it. (She will probably sit on it until it explodes.) Whatever
happened to the other three eggs is a mystery, but it is possible that
Albert got it.
is the young alligator that appeared unexpectedly last August. He lived
in our pond for a couple of months. Then he disappeared. He was just
a juvenile, less than 30" long from the tip of his snout to the
tip of his tail, but a well-fed alligator can grow almost a foot a year.
Needless-to-say, Albert was an unwelcome addition to our 8 acre pond.
We were relieved to be rid of him. His presence had been particularly
unsettling because it meant that two adult alligators his parents
were probably lurking within walking distance of our property.
Anyway, we thought we'd seen the last of Albert but he reappeared two
weeks ago. Evidently he had never left us; instead he'd been hibernating.
Albert is much bigger now. At almost 36" it's unclear whether or
not he would have the ability to force Charlotte from her nest and consume
her eggs. Probably not.
Last week I drove Jabber to Charleston to start his physical therapy
at the VSS clinic. In order to work with the leg, Jabber's external
fixator bar had to be removed. After it came off they discovered that
the top three pins in his thigh were no longer rigid. Evidently it is
not unusual for fixator pins to loosen up after a period of time. Once
that happens it can be quite painful. The loose set of pins meant the
entire fixator apparatus had to come off, otherwise a fourth surgery
would have to be performed to remove the loose pins and install a new
set of pins. Based
on Jabber's last radiograph, Dr. Shealy felt that there was sufficient
bone healing to
remove the fixator. (It had been on Jabber for almost seven weeks.)
Rather than put Jabber through another operation, we opted to remove
I stayed with Jabber and watched them remove the fixator rods and pins. Jabber was not sedated, nor was a local anesthetic used. He lay there quietly with his head in my lap while they went to work. The pins in his thigh bone came out pretty easily because they were already loose. The four pins in his tibia were cemented in by new bone growth. Jabber was stoic. He didn't even flinch when they had to use a ratchet to remove the lower pins. The holes bled quite a bit at first. The doctor took a smear of the bloody fluid coming from one of the pin sites and sent it off for a culture and sensitivity evaluation. This was a pin site that had been oozing for several weeks. The culture report came back indicating the presence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli, the same strain cultured from Jabber's urine several weeks ago. Fortunately it is treatable.
Jabber stayed in Charleston for five days and he received daily electrical stimulation sessions on his leg called "e-stim." He did little else besides eat and sleep. I picked him up at the end of the week and brought him home for a three-day weekend.
To my surprise, Jabber is much harder to manage now that the fixator has been removed. Getting him up and walking him with the sling is more difficult because his "good" leg seems weaker and he isn't able to assist with the process like before. (Remember, he weighs 175 pounds that's a lot to lift!) The fixator sites in Jabber's TPLO leg have completely scabbed over leaving seven hard bumps. I can tell Jabber is more comfortable without the fixator, but it's removal seems to have upset his equilibrium. As expected, he has minimal range of motion in his knee joint, perhaps 10°, and he is still unable to use the leg. He will put a little weight on it when he is standing but only if I position the leg properly for him. He can't move the leg into position by himself. He tires quickly and spends a lot of time sleeping. Jabber's therapy program should help restore some function to his leg. How much function, we don't yet know. At a later date he will need additional operations to remove three of the twelve screws in his knee. I can tell we have a long, tough road ahead of us. Last night I watched Jabber sleep. He was dreaming. His legs were twitching and pumping both of them. In his dreams Jabber can still run. I hope someday his dreams will become reality.
Go to next installment...
DaDane of DaWeek t-shirts & sweatshirts
are available at www.dogware.com
These drop-down menus should work with all
If you experience a problem, please visit the hypertext-based Archives
- Recommended Links -
"Great Dane Links" now offers over 1000 links,
sorted by category for easy browsing. Categories include health & welfare,
breeding & genetics, clubs & organizations, rescue resources, breeder
directory, and personal pet sites. New links are added every Monday.
There are 95 electronic
postcards now, including the most recent DaDane pictures. Send someone a DaDane
postcard. It's virtually free! Also available: E-male
postcards and FeMail postcards.
Your favorite DaDane postcard pictures
are now available on t-shirts, turtlenecks, and sweatshirts. Please visit our
DogWare website to see the latest designs.
These shirts make great gifts!