This is my 3 legged baby Shylo, now 2 1/2.
Our story is an exciting adventure full of a lot of tears,
incredible luck and fantastic people.
We lived in Birdsville at the time of the accident,
an outback town on the edge of the Simpson Desert,
the most isolated town in Australia.
400km by rough dirt road to the nearest vet.
Shylo was 1 year old at the time of the accident,
my scruffy little mongrel who rarely left my side.
Last February, she ran after a rabbit that came into our yard,
straight under the front wheels of probably the only car driving in town at the time.
The man who hit her was a local man in his 90's, riddled with arthritis.
He came back and just stood there crying.
He was devastated.
He can barely walk, so couldn't do anything to help.
All I could do was hug him and tell him it wasn't his fault,
before running for help.
I felt so bad for him; he's a lovely bloke.
Shylo dragged herself off the road screaming,
her back legs useless,
her spine bent and her stomach blown up and purple.
A friend called our nurse at our clinic,
who was the only person in town with any medical knowledge.
She enlisted her husband to get on the phone to find a vet for help,
and came and picked us up in the ambulance and took us to the clinic.
She cleaned and stitched Shylo up,
put her on oxygen when she started going into shock,
and gave her some painkillers,
and was incredibly reassuring and supportive to me.
Meanwhile, other friends were desperately trying to work out how to get us out of town.
The only option seemed to be a 6 hour drive over very rough dirt road,
which I seriously did not think she would survive.
Then came the welcome phone call
that a charter plane had landed in town,
the first we'd seen in over a month.
A friend told the pilot what had happened,
and he insisted on flying us 700km to Mt Isa at first light.
A flight he could have charged me $3000 for.
Shylo and I struggled through the worst night either of us had had in our lives,
every breath she took was either a whine, yelp or scream, as she threw herself around.
I talked to her constantly, tried to keep her still
and constantly changed the dressing under her as she dirtied them,
and I cried.
I wondered constantly whether I was being cruel to her by keeping her alive,
but we hung on minute by minute until the sun came up.
The pilot flew us to Mt Isa,
and his passengers drove me straight to the vet clinic.
After making Shylo comfortable and taking x-rays,
the vet told me her pelvis was in 8 pieces,
her hip was crushed and her leg was broken.
There also seemed to be damage to her spine,
but he couldn't tell because of the swelling.
He also told me there was no way yet to know the extent of any internal injuries.
He was very caring with both of us,
and while making it clear to me to not get my hopes up,
he also told me of a very good orthopedic surgeon in Brisbane.
He explained that it would cost a lot of money,
and there were still no guarantees,
gave me a flight cage for her
and went and booked a flight to Brisbane for me.
The aircraft crew were wonderful,
they let me stay with her in the security area
until she was put on the plane.
At Brisbane airport, the luggage crew bypassed all red tape,
and carried her into the airport to find me.
At the specialist center,
Shylo had 7 hours of surgery,
where her pelvis was put together,
her hip removed and reconstructed with muscle.
Her spine seemed ok.
Then came 7 weeks of physiotherapy,
with electric impulses to stimulate nerve regrowth.
We still didn't know the extent of any internal injuries,
as her elimination processes still weren't happening.
The doctors and staff at the clinic were wonderful,
very loving, and encouraging me to spend as much time as I wanted there with her.
After 7 weeks,
Shylo was still dragging her damaged leg,
and there was no feeling in it.
The nerves were all dead.
So, more surgery to remove her leg.
I was told it would take some time to teach her to walk again
with a sling around her stomach.
When I went to see her 8 hours after the surgery,
all the staff came out into the waiting room before they brought her out.
I wondered what was going on.
Then a door opened,
Shylo saw me,
and ran down the hall and threw herself on my lap!
I was on the floor in tears and laughter,
as were most of the staff.
She was so happy.
The nurse said that as soon as she had woken up after the surgery,
they had taken her outside, and she had shrugged them off
and trotted away on her own.
She had had enough of being sick, apparently.
I took her home to my mums place in Brisbane that day,
and hovered over her while she learned how to go backwards,
get up steps, and to not lift up her front paw while standing up.
That was kinda funny.
She's a very happy, active dog today,
chases Frisbees and sticks,
(still not flash at fast, sharp corners, but does great commando rolls),
swims, scratches her ears with her front paws which is very cute,
and makes me laugh a lot.
For a horrible experience,
I met a lot of compassionate, caring people,
and I have my funny, devoted little friend.
My $10,000 scruffy, inbred mongrel.
They are worth every cent, aren't they?!
Wednesday March 5, 2008
Hi Cynthia, thanks for your reply!
I think she's the cutest thing on the planet (most of the time!)
It blows me away when I think of the chain of events
and the people involved.
The majority of people in remote rural areas typically have a very practical,
work oriented relationship with their dogs; most of the people I know there
would have encouraged me to put her down.
Some of the other nurses who have worked at the clinic certainly wouldn't have
helped to the extent beautiful nurses Julie and Jo did.
The pilot of the charter flight could have been in a lot of trouble
for taking a passenger and dog free of charge, airport staff broke rules for us,
and the doctors and veterinary nurses were all incredible.
Even the retired police officer who sat next to me on the plane to Brisbane
kept me positive and laughing all the way home,
and gave me the biggest hug when we got there.
The whole experience has certainly strengthened my love and belief in people and fate.
And I DO believe Shylo has some sort of purpose here.
6 months before the accident,
I rolled my 4 wheel drive on a dirt road out here.
The car landed on the passenger side,
Shylo was on the passenger side back seat,
with a lot of very heavy boxes above her.
All I could think of while I was hanging upside down trying to get out of the seatbelt,
was her being crushed, and not being able to move the boxes off her.
Then I heard a little scuffle,
and she trotted out,
looked at me like she was thinking
'ok...weird way to park...but whatever!'
We were also in a very remote area with no phone coverage,
my UHF radio ariel was broken,
we were very lucky someone came along within an hour.
That experience could have ended very differently.
I honestly don't know why Shylo still hangs around with me.
Thank you for your suggestions about taking her to hospitals or schools,
that has really got me thinking. That could be a great idea!
I might even see if the media are interested.
Although Shylo is already a bit of a princess,
fame may make her unbearable!!
Thank you so much for your site Cynthia,
it feels great to read stories from people who have gone through similar experiences;
I've laughed and cried, and felt very lucky and thankful for my baby.
I also don't feel quite as eccentric anymore for loving her so much.
Big loves and pats to Cassie for being special,
and having such loving and clever parents.
Thursday March 6, 2008