With a heavy heart, I boarded the flight from London to Abruzzo Airport yesterday. The previous day, I had been on top of the world, looking forward to going home after a fabulous few weeks teaching at the Lake School of English, Oxford.
I had had an urgent message from K. Kelly, our stray dog, had been involved in an accident in the fields surrounding our home in Abruzzo. A tractor had run him over and had partially severed his foot. Poor Kelly had lost a lot of blood and with the help of the farmer, K had to cut off what was left of Kelly's foot. There was no other help at hand as it happened in open countryside and there was no other option. Kelly was transported back home in a wheelbarrow acting as a stretcher. By the time K had phoned for a vet, Kelly had somehow or other, vanished into thin air. No amount of calling or searching, found him. As it got later, and the sky grew darker and darker, it was assumed that Kelly had gone somewhere to lick his wounds and die with dignity. Thoughts were that at that stage, Kelly was beyond saving, even if he did come back, as he had suffered such a horrendous injury. The notion of having to put him down to spare him agony, saddened us immensely.
A life-saving Decision
Imagine my great surprise, when I phoned K the next day, to say that I and my parents had arrived at Abruzzo airport, to hear that Kelly had crawled back to our home and was in a very bad state indeed. The fact that Kelly had somehow or other, willed himself home was astonishing and uplifting. However, the thought of the vet spelling out a negative prognosis, made me feel edgy and very worried for him.
The local vet arrived and spent several hours tending to Kelly, giving him a drip, cleaning him up, giving him injections and generally saving his life. Kelly had lost a lot of blood, but luckily the injury had been just millimetres away from touching a main artery. The vet said Kelly would have died within 15 minutes of the impact if the main artery had been touched.
Most importantly of all, he stated that Kelly's life could be saved only if we could dedicate ourselves to 15 days of intensive TLC, involving twice daily injections, bathing the severed part of Kelly's foot three times a day, and punctual and exact administering of antibiotics and medication. Without hesitation and without the need to confer, we both agreed that of course, that was what we wanted to do. The thought of putting Kelly down there and then was simply not an option we wanted to consider if there was the slightest hope that he could live a fairly reasonable life.
I must say in all truth that the heavy burden of the work rests on K's shoulders. My family are here in Abruzzo for the first time in 2 years. My mother's serious accident last year resulted in all our lives and plans being put on hold while we waited anxiously for news of recovery. The fact that my mother has defied all the medical odds stacked against her, is indeed cause for celebration this year, and this two-week family holiday has been greatly anticipated. My mother will be celebrating her birthday here as well. So, a moral dilemma has ensued. Kelly is very important. My family are very imprtant. I can't be in 2 places at once, clear and simple. So I will be with my family, and Karl will stay here, to look after Kelly while I am away, yet again.
How ironic that just a few weeks ago on my blog, I featured the Newsy.com story of "Oscar, the Bionic Cat", who had had his legs severed in a similar accident to Kelly's. Even more of a coincidence, just a few days ago, I had taught my students some expressions such as "to pass away", "to kick the bucket", and "to put an animal down". It makes me think. Would all this have happened if I hadn't somehow tempted fate? It's a question that I have asked myself. The chance of one of our menagerie being involved in an accident is minimal as there is no heavy traffic around here, apart from the odd tractor or combine harvester.
Today Kelly wagged his tail, limped around his pen and ate some food. This is very positive. Alessio, our brilliant vet, has stressed that the only thing which stands in the way of Kelly's recovery, is the onset of gangrene in his foot. I hope and pray that this will not happen. Kelly is a fighter. He deserves another chance.
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