Bicycle Mishap for Tucker, From the Archives

D. E. Larsen, DVM

June and her two boys, Joe and Josh, were waiting impatiently in the reception with what looked like a rather painful Tucker.

Tucker was about a three-year-old Springer Spaniel who was usually bouncing off the walls in the clinic. Today he was standing, hunched up and reluctant to move. Something must be terribly wrong.

Dixie had them in the exam room, but Tucker was so painful that he was still on the floor.

“What’s up with Tucker?” I asked when I entered the room.

“Joe ran over him with his bicycle a couple of hours ago,” June said as Joe held up his elbow to show me a road rash he had sustained. “He seemed okay when it happened but then started getting painful. Just a little painful at first, but then it started getting worse. He doesn’t want to move now.”

I squatted down to look at Tucker, and he snarled as I reached out to touch him.

“I think I had better fashion a little muzzle for him,” I said. “He is so painful he doesn’t want to be touched.”

“He won’t bite,” June said.

“Under normal circumstances, that may be true,” I said. “But when a dog is painful, he will bite, I assure you. So just to be safe, I am going to tie his mouth with a loop of gauze.”

I took about three feet of roll gauze and made a loop in the middle with one throw. I placed the loop over Tucker’s muzzle and pulled it tight with the throw on top of his muzzle. Then I crossed the gauze under his muzzle and tied the ends behind his head.

Then leaving Tucker on the floor, I carefully started to run my hands over him to find the source of his pain. Tucker snarled at my very touch.

Tucker showed no response as my hands started at his nose and moved over his head and down his neck. There was no pain in his front legs or chest. I stood up and moved behind Tucker to carefully palpate his back and hips. He tensed and growled when I started to palpate his hind legs, but that growl stopped when I reached his knees and lower legs. I carefully pushed on his abdomen, no pain was detected. I moved back to his hind legs, and the growl started again. I lifted his rear up to look closer, and there it was.

Tucker’s right testicle was almost twice the size of his left testicle. I reached to touch the swollen testicle, and Tucker sort of exploded. Without the muzzle, I would have been bitten. Tucker maintained contact with my left arm with his muzzled mouth, just to make sure I wouldn’t try to touch that again.

“Well, it looks like I found it,” I said. “Tucker must have gotten a testicle ran over.”

“I am shocked,” June said. “I have never seen him act like that before.”

“Don’t hold it against him,” I said. “When these guys are really painful, that is their only defense.”

“What do we need to do with him,” June asked.

“I need to get him under anesthesia and figure out what happened to that testicle,” I said. “My guess is that it is going have to be removed. I just need to make sure there is not a hernia involved.”

“It looks like that is our only choice,” June said. “Can you do that right away?”

“I have a couple of things to do first, but we will give him some pain stuff while he waits for surgery,” I said. “The best thing would be to take both of those things while we are doing this. It really wouldn’t add anything to the surgery bill and would make a better dog out of him.”

“I will ask Jerry, but we have talked about neutering Tucker before, and Jerry is pretty dead set against it,” June said. “Sort of a guy thing, I guess.”

“Okay, but just between you and I, Tucker’s life will be much happier if he is neutered,” I said. “He won’t be worrying about that little chippy down the street. Or fighting with the big dog down there with her.”

“I know,” June said. “But I’m afraid there is no changing Jerry’s mind.”

“Okay, I will plan to only remove the injured testicle unless I hear from you,” I said. “We will be getting to surgery in an hour or so. Is that enough time for you to talk with Jerry?”

“I think so,” June said. “But if you don’t hear from me, just remove the injured testicle.

I gave Tucker a dose of Innovar for pain and put him in a kennel while we finished things up so we could get him into surgery.

June called the clinic just before we started into surgery with Tucker to confirm that Jerry did not want to remove both testicles unless necessary. 

“You could tell him a little white lie,” Dixie said with a smile. She knew I would not do that.

“I have to be able to live with myself,” I said. “Telling little lies makes that hard to do, and it leads to bigger lies. Pretty soon, you can’t remember what you said to whom.”

We prepped Tucker, and I made a mid-line incision in front of the scrotum. Then, pushing the injured testicle into the incision, I incised the soft tissues over the testicle and pushed the testicle out of the incision.

The problem was immediately apparent. There was a full two twists in the cord of the testicle, a testicular torsion. There was no saving this testicle. The bicycle wheel must have spun this testicle as it ran over it.

At this point, I opened the tunic covering the testicle. I completed a standard orchiectomy, removing the injured testicle and closing the incision.

We recovered Tucker from anesthesia, and we had the old Tucker back, bouncing around the kennel. He was ready to go home.

I called June to give her the news. 

“June, Tucker can go home anytime this afternoon,” I said. “He had a complete torsion of his right testicle. The bicycle wheel must have spun it around a couple of times. There was no saving the testicle, but Tucker is wide awake and bouncing around like the old Tucker we know.”

When Tucker was picked up, he was jumping up and licking at the faces of both Joe and Josh, showing no remorse for the accident, if he was even aware of it at all.

Photo by John Debrey on Unsplash

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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