Moose’s Escape

D. E. Larsen, DVM

Office hours on Saturday mornings were always the same in the summer. If the sun shined, half the appointment never showed up. But you could be sure that the last appointment would make it.

“Everyone is headed to the lake this morning,” I said. “The last four appointments have been no-shows. We have one more at eleven-thirty, why don’t you call them to make sure they are coming. Maybe even get them in a little early if that is possible.”

“That would be nice. The kids wanted to see that movie this afternoon,” Sandy said.

Sandy called, and yes, the gal was still coming, and she could come now. So maybe we could be done early enough to catch the matinee with the kids.

It wasn’t long before Sally dragged a reluctant Moose through the clinic’s front door.

I knew Moose from several previous appointments, and his name fits him well.

Moose was a Mastiff and a large one at that. Couple that with a generous layer of fat. Moose was one of my larger patients.

“He looks a little reluctant to see me this morning,” I said as Sally stopped to catch her breath.

“I have been so mad at this dog this morning,” Sally said. “Our neighbor’s dog is in heat, and this dog has been out of his mind.”

“It’s been known that some males will do crazy things when a female is in heat,” I said.

“Yes, Doctor, I am well acquainted with the antics of the male of a species,” Sally said. “But this dog managed to climb up on our wood pile and jump over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. Now I have a limping dog and neighbor who is not too happy that his Lab might be having half mastiff puppies.”

“I assume we are checking Moose’s limp,” I said.

“Yes, that was a six-foot fence he jumped over,” Sally said. “This old tub of lard must have been thinking he was still a puppy.”

“I think that is a common male trait also,” Sandy said, looking at me with a wry smile.

“We are trying to get done this morning so we can catch the matinee with the kids,” I said. “Let me get a look a this limp. Can you have him walk a few steps for me?”

Sally tugged on Moose’s lead rope, but he wasn’t going to move. She coaxed him and pulled again.

“Nope, he’s not moving,” Sally said.

“Try turning around and taking a few steps toward the door,” I said.

Moose almost jumped when Sally headed for the front door. He had a pretty significant limp on his right front leg.

“That was a pretty big jump for this guy,” I said. “He is limping pretty good. The fact that he is bearing weight probably means no fracture, but a ligament injury is sure possible.”

I knelt down and started looking over Moose’s leg.

“Tell me when it hurts,” I said. “Moose looked away, trying to avoid eye contact with his tormentor.

I grabbed his forearm and pulled his leg forward as hard as I could, checking the shoulder. Then I flexed his elbow and rotated his forearm this way and that. Moose made no response to any of that. I went over his foot, palpating each of his toes. Still no response. Then I came to his carpus. I flexed his wrist, and he flinched. I bent it again, and Moose growled.

“That doesn’t sound like Moose,” Sally said.

“He is just saying don’t do that again,” I said.

“What do you think, Doctor?” Sally asked.

“I think he got lucky,” I said. “His leg looks okay. He probably just has a sprained wrist. I will need to get some x-rays to make sure there isn’t a fracture, and also I will need to get a stress view or two to check for ligament tears. But if the x-rays look okay, I think a wrap and a splint for a week or two will be all Moose needs.”

“Can you do that this morning?” Sally asked.

“Yes, I think so,” I said. “I will have to sedate him briefly for the x-rays, and it will take a while to wake up enough to go home. Why don’t we plan to leave him? I will get the x-rays, do a wrap with a splint, and then call you when we get out of the movie.”

“That will be fine,” Sally said. “You think he is going to be okay.”

“If I don’t find anything on the x-rays, he will heal with his foot in a splint for a week or two,” I said. “Of course, you will have to convince him to ignore his neighbor during that time.”

“How are we going to do that?” Sally asked. “After this morning, I don’t think my neighbor will be very talkative.”

“Finding a kennel might be a good idea,” I said. “That will remove the immediate problem and probably allow this sprain the heal better with some rest and relaxation.”

Sally left Moose, and Moose, deciding that he was stuck, became more cooperative.

After sedating him, I could check his carpus joint with some aggressive palpation. I was convinced there were no ligament tears. The x-rays looked fine. I placed a padded wrap on his foot that went halfway up his foreleg and taped a metal spoon splint on the outside of the wrap.

We moved Moose back to one of the runs in the kennel room, and by the time I had him situated, he was already waking up.

“You do fill up this run,” I said to Moose as he looked around at his surroundings.

Moose was on his feet in no time. It took him a few minutes to put some weight on his wrapped foot, but when he did, it didn’t seem to bother him.

“Do we have enough time to send Moose home now?” I asked Sandy.

“We are going to have to hurry if we are going to make the movie,” Sandy said. “Let’s just come over after the movie and send him home then.”

We rushed home, gathered the kids, and went to the afternoon movie at the Rio Theater.

I sneezed when we came out of the dark theater into the bright sunlight.

“You always sneeze like that in the sun,” Sandy said.

“Any change in light intensity causes me to sneeze,” I said. “It must be some mixup between my olfactory and optic nerves. I don’t see it in very many other people. Colonel Paris in the Army, and my nephew David Larsen, are the only ones I have ever noticed it being a problem.”

The kids piled in the car, all smiles.

“We better go send Moose home,” Sandy said.

“How long is that going to take?” Brenda asked with a fading smile.

“It won’t take long,” Sandy said. “He is ready to go. We just need to call his owner and wait for her to come to pick him up.”

It only took a moment to drive the two blocks to the clinic. I got out of the car, followed by the kids, and sandy was helping Derek out of the car.

I opened the door and stepped into a puddle of water.

“There’s water on the floor,” I said. “You guys wait here until I find where all this water is coming from.”

There wasn’t a lot of water on the floor, but it shouldn’t have been there. I checked the sink in the pharmacy, the bathroom, and the surgical scrub sink. There was no problem in the front of the clinic.

When I opened the door to the back of the clinic, I could hear water rushing, and the room was cold. The floor drain in the treatment room had a whirlpool, as the water was draining as fast as possible.

I opened the kennel room door. It was freezing like an air conditioner was stuck on low, and there was quite a site to greet my eyes. The hose faucet was running full bore. The floor drains were draining water as fast as they could, but that was not fast enough. The lone cat in his kennel was in the back corner, curled up, trying to stay warm.

And Moose was standing on his hind legs, pressed against the far wall, shivering. The gate to Moose’s run was on the floor. Obviously, knocked off its hinges by Moose.

I turned off the water faucet, and the drains quickly caught up with their job. I motioned Moose to come, and he almost knocked me over, getting out of the room.

“What the hell did you do?” I asked Moose as I took out to the recovery kennel in the front of the kennel. Then I went out to talk with Sandy.

“We need to run home and get the shop vac so I can start drying this floor out,” I said. “Moose knocked the gate of his run off the hinges and somehow turned on the water faucet full blast. Water is everywhere, more in the back, but some out front. It’s no real problem, everything is up off the floor, and the floor is concrete. The drains in the back are catching up with their job since I turned off the faucet.”

“Do we get to go home?” Brenda asked.

“Yes, I will take you kids home,” I said. “Then I will have to dry the floor enough to send Moose home. I will probably have to change his wrap. I am sure that he has it soaked.”

When I returned with the shop vac, most of the water had made it to the floor drains. Moose had warmed up enough that he was no longer shivering, and the cat in the kennel room was still looking around like he had just witnessed a circus. Moose knew he had done wrong. He would not look me in the eye. I left him in the recovery kennel while I changed his wrap and reapplied the splint.

Then I gathered every towel I could find and started mopping up the residual water in the front of the clinic. It was warm enough that the floor actually dried out pretty fast. I ran the shop vac in the back of the clinic, where there was a little more residual water. It would be dry by morning.

Finally, I could give Sally a call.

“I thought something must be wrong,” Sally said. “I expected your call earlier.”

“Well, it seems Moose took exception to his accommodations,” I said. “He knocked the run gate off its hinges and, somehow, turned on the faucet in the kennel room. I have been drying this place out for the last couple of hours.”

“Is Moose okay?” Sally asked.

“Oh, he is fine,” I said. “I had to change his wrap because it was soaked, and he is a little embarrassed about the mess he left for me, but he is fine. The cat back in the kennel room still hasn’t processed the entire event yet.”

Moose went and healed up with no problem. The clinic was completely dry by Monday morning, and I removed the handle from the kennel room faucet, just in case we had to keep Moose again. The run gate was more challenging, but I could fix the hinges so the gate could not be removed by a fractious dog.

Photo by Jonathan Copper on Pexels.

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

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