Yukon Breaks a Leg

January 10, 1999

We had a rough night of it here last night. Yukon broke his right rear lower leg (both bones -- I can see one large chip and some big fissures on the bones in the Xrays). The Emergency Clinic stabilized it last night, splinted him and we are waiting to see our vet this morning. The ER vet thinks a plate may be needed and we may require an orthopedic surgeon to perform the operation.

We aren't having the easiest time dealing with the aftermath -- there isn't a way in/out of our home without stairs (two story house plus basement) and neither of us can lift Yukon unassisted with this huge cast he has on his unrepaired fractured leg.

We aren't sure how he broke it but I have the scenario pretty well imagined. He was in the back yard. We have a raised deck with about six steps leading up to it. The steps are standard "deck steps" (i.e.open, no risers between the treads). We were also caring for Cleo the golden this weekend. We came home, both dogs fine. Scott called the dogs in for dinner a few minutes later. Cleo the food hog came running and so did Yukon. However, Yukon never came in, so a few minutes later Scott went looking for him. He was sitting on the bottom step, Scott called him and no response. Scott said Yukon turned to look at him and he could tell by the look in his eyes that something was wrong. Scott called me, leg dangling horribly. I believe that he came at the steps at a full run, bounded up and slipped and the momentum carried him forward and his leg smacked into the tread above as he was sliding through. Moral of this story, we will immediately install risers.

After three days of helping Yukon around using Scott's arms as a sling, Yukon was starting to get an idea of how to move about - when to wait from help from Dad, and when he could handle it on his own. He was naturally very frustrated and wanted to be out "guarding." It was most difficult night when he would wander the house trying to find a comfortable place.

January 14, 1999

Yukon had his surgery today. The surgeon, E. B. Orkasinski, put in a plate to hold the bone fragments in place. Yukon seems to have come through the surgery well.

Unfortunately, the surgeon discovered some bone lesions that, in his estimation, "didn't look good." E.B. took biopsies of the lesions and Yukon' marrow: we should have the results back in 7 to 10 days. We were told we could expect one of three results, 1) cancerous growths, 2) reactive bone (growths that are a reaction to insult/injury), and 3) benign growths.

We received the bad news today. Yukon has bone cancer. In the past two weeks we have been researching bone cancer in dogs and learning the horrible statistics. With treatment -- life expectancy one year (+/- 6 mos.). Without treatment life expectancy 3-6 months. Treatment options are limited. One, amputate the leg and follow with radiation treatment. Two, try to qualify for an experimental bone replacement surgery pioneered at the University of Colorado. We have investigated both and decided against both. We will try and give Yukon a happy life and enjoy it with him however long it lasts and however long he can function without too much pain.

March 12, 1999

Yukon made a great recovery from the orthopedic surgery for his broken leg and is getting along fine (although still favoring his left rear leg). He looks funny with all of the hair shaved off that haunch, but it is so good to see him able to move around again. He seems to enjoy his walks. Before the accident he was walked twice a day (1/2 mile each walk). Now we are going about a 1/4 mile each walk, but he does well.

April 1999

Yukon is as good as new. We are three months post-surgery and bone cancer diagnosis. He shows no signs of his injury. He is back to walking a 1/2 mile twice a day, and negotiates the stairs all over the house without any significant difficulty. We have been watching like a hawk for signs of lameness (usually the first sign that bone cancer is progressing). While he limps occasionally when first getting up or if it is cold, he seems to be about the same dog he was before the surgery. He even does his "pogo dog" routine and jumps around like a bucking bronco in the back yard when it is time for his walk. Scott insists he was misdiagnosed. I don't believe that, but it is miraculous.

December 1999

Yukon has lived twice as long as we were told he would and at least as long as we could expect if we had amputated his leg. In January we fully expected that he would not live to see another Christmas. Yet, he is going strong and as headstrong as ever. He seems to have difficulty with the stairs every once in awhile, possibly because we try to get him going when he isn't ready to wake up yet! We are looking forward to our second Christmas with Yukon, who has escaped death for the second time in the short life he has had with us.

Stephanie Bloomfield
Scott Presnell
Last modified: Sunday, December 18, 2005 17:14 PST