by Lesley Scott
This story is written about an amazing dog and how he overcame a serious handicap
I’ve always liked pit bull dogs, but was nervous because of the unsubstantiated rumors I’d been fed before I learned it was not true. As time passed I went to work for a veterinary surgeon who adored pits. “I love their stoic attitude when I am working with them,” Dr. Henri Bianucci told me, “They don’t whine and act stupid like these foolish labs and goldens. Most of them never need morphine. Now that’s a good dog, one that will put up with pain without a whimper!”
On my night shift, I stayed alone with sick and post surgery animals. I kept the IV pumps working, injected morphine into who needed it, and talked to them, saying, “You’re a good dog. We’ll have you out of here in no time.” We did have a high survival rate, and we only took in animals on their vet’s referral. So for most of the dogs and cats, their lives hung in the balance. Dr. Henri Bianucci, a Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon, ran a tight ship.
He showed us his brilliance the day they brought in Taz, the six month old pit bull puppy. He was a brindle color, mixed white and black colors almost striped and his back legs dragged behind him. He pulled himself along on strong front legs and yet acted like a typical puppy. Surely, he must be in some pain. He had been that way for about a month according to his owner.
After examining Taz thoroughly and calling the recommending veterinarian, considered to be one of the best, I was betting he’d have to be euthanized. Dr. Bianucci, after being locked in his office thinking about solutions and outcomes, came bursting through the door, shaking the file cabinets. “I know now what we’ll do!” he loudly said to Josie, the head tech, Erin, the best you could find, and Cherry, who ruled the clinic as office manager, and me, the all-around gopher and helper, small but strong. Cherry finally asked him what he was talking about. “I’m going to amputate both legs,” he announced.
Everyone looked at each other in disbelief because Dr. B. had a warped sense of humor sometimes. But the look on his face showed us he was not joking. None of us talked about it because we never second guessed his decision. I, for one, thought he was crazy to spend all of that time operating on a dog that may not come through the surgery. It would be lengthy and Taz would loose a good bit of blood. How would he heal since he’d be dragging his rear?
Dr. Bianucci was excited, I could tell. He loved what he did and did what he loved. He was also the best surgeon anywhere. The pre-op was lengthy, involving running a catheter into a vein in his leg and giving him Propofol (Michael Jackson’s last drug), which paralyzed the throat so that Erin could slide in the breathing tube. We could all do it in out sleep, but always checked behind ourselves and everyone else. Everything we did was critical.
With Taz on the table, draped in blue, super-bright surgery lights poised, Dr. Henri made his first cut. “Here we go!” he laughed. The surgery only took three hours and not as much blood loss as once thought. We found out why Taz’s legs were dead, “Y’all, check this out!” The blood vessels to and from his legs were filled with and blocked with adult heart worms! At the time, I wasn’t thinking nice thoughts about the owners. This didn’t have to happen.
Dr. B. hung around, waiting for Taz’s recovery. A lot of dogs come out of the anesthesia jerking and shivering, and some can actually die of complications. When Taz lifted up his face and gave Dr. Bianucci a sloppy kiss, he said to me, “It’s after nine o’clock, and Taz will recover fine. I’m going home for some cold supper, again. Don’t forget to call me if anything happens. Anything.” He always said that. Once, he showed up still wearing his bedroom slippers.
Taz slept through the night with medication on board. Most of the other dogs and cats needed IV pumps, and injections or glucose checks. So tending to the animals and keeping the clinic spotless, kept me busy until close to two o’clock a.m.
I made sure everything was ready for the surgery in the morning and the surgery suite was perfectly sanitized. Dr. B. operated exactly like a human surgeon would. That is one of the many things that gave our clinic such a high recovery rate. He wasted no time and had to plunge right into his morning surgery, so I had better have everything ready.
I didn’t go in to work until six o’clock in the afternoon, but called a busy, as usual, Cherry to find out how Taz was recovering. She said, “I really can’t talk right now. You’ll have to see when you get here, but he is still alive and in good spirits. Just see for yourself this afternoon.”
As soon as I pulled open the back door, here comes Taz, romping, not dragging his legs, and rubbing all over my body, licking and barking. I was so amazed, I said, “What the F---?” Taz turned back to gobbling up his supper. He gave out a loud belch when we could see the bottom of the bowl.
Taz was the first Pit Bull I had ever seen recover so rapidly over a risky surgery. He acted like nothing had happened. I guess since his legs were useless, he depended on the balance and strength of his forelegs. So removing his legs made him happy and he had the strong will to overcome what could have been a handicap for another dog.
Taz went home the next evening. His owners were nice, and promised they would get him treated for heartworms. I was not convinced, but maybe they would shell out the money. After all, they had just spent a fortune on Taz’s surgery. I think of Taz from time to time and wonder what his life has been like. He was one amazing pit bull. Taz was only one of many. These dogs are really great dogs. Anyone wanting to adopt a pit bull, check all of the shelters and I guarantee, after one or two trips, you will find your Taz.