Monday, June 25, 2012

Jackie Be Nimble--A Jack Russell Terrier Story

An old adage talks about cats having nine lives, and many of them do indeed survive and heal from amazing wounds and mishaps. And then there's Jackie.

Jackie was actually a Jack Russell Terrorist of some renown. Though small of stature, like most members of the breed she fancied herself considerably larger and fiercer than her 14 pounds would seem to  prudently indicate. As a group, JRTs are high energy, perpetual motion and almost too smart. If veterinary medicine had an attention deficit/hyperactivity diagnosis the Jack Russell would be the poster dog.

Many a dog-savvy owner has been slow to realize until too late that the adorable 12 week old bundle of terrier scruff is now a dictator of Stalinist proportions entirely in charge and running the household routine.

Unfortunately, Jackie's owners were all that and also a poor match for her Houdini tactics. Additionally, she had a nose for trouble which often led her far afield.

One of her initial visits to see me occurred when she returned home after a two day absence. She'd been found in her yard with assorted minor lacerations and muzzle swelling and completely caked with dirt. Her eyes were so full of gritty sand that initially the eye itself wasn't even visible. Her ears and nostrils were similarly packed and she was dehydrated.

Jack Russell Terriers Digging Mousepad
(Courtesy of
A correct diagnosis almost always depends on a good history and veterinary patients are notoriously non-verbal so as I started to clean and treat her I asked questions about where she'd been found, the house, and the neighborhood. I was well into double digit flushings of her eyes with saline when I asked about remodeling and said she looked like she'd been buried alive.

Her owners suddenly remembered a delivery of construction sand and gravel to a building site across the street...two days ago. It seemed Jackie had embarked on another excursion and been caught under a dump truck load of sand and it had likely taken the poor thing the entire two days to dig her way out!

But wait, there's more!

Jackie came in again a couple of years later, (we tended to only see her for 'real' problems), with multiple bite wounds on her face. And again a few weeks later for the same thing. And again a couple of months after that when she returned home after a 7 day absence with multiple rear limb injuries and pelvic weakness. It was that last set of injuries, perhaps due to another go 'round with a much bigger dog or possibly a several ton vehicle that finally slowed her down. With careful nursing and patience, she did regain use of her rear legs but remained a little impaired and presumably was slow enough for her owners to catch as she attempted to dart out the door. Her remaining visits were few, she was spayed a bit late at the age of 8 and after that we saw her for an occasional vaccine.

Despite her intermittant visits and true to form for most JRTs, Jackie made an impression. (Even if it was sand art...)

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