Fiona has always been a fighter, ever since she was struck by a car this past St. Patrick’s Day. She bounced back, and had lived heroically with her bum leg, which suffered severe nerve damage from the accident.
But even though we knew that one day she may lose it, we were not entirely prepared when Ruth Smith, Fiona’s veterinarian, sat us down Sept. 18 and told us it was time.
Fiona, our 10-month-old dog, needed to have her back left leg amputated.
I was at work in Pleasanton; Dan was with the vet. I sat in an empty room and just sobbed. Dan valiantly brought our puppy home and kept saying everything was going to be OK, that this surgery was for the best.
After six months of fighting, Fiona was about to enter a whole new battle.
This past Monday, Fiona went in and within an hour, her leg was gone. Just like that.
The thought of the pain and confusion that our dog would have to go through kept me awake at night, and I often cried for no other reason than I felt like it was somehow my fault.
Dan would hug me and tell me it was OK, that she would be fine.
And thank goodness, he was right.
Four hours after surgery, Fiona the fighter was up and limping around, ears tucked back against her head. Despite a slight look of pain spread across her face, her tail still wagged when she was cheered by the staff at Oakwood Veterinary Hospital in Woodbridge as she waddled over to Dan.
“I can do it,” she seemed to tell us.
The next day, when I got my chance to visit her at the vet, she already showed remarkable signs of improvement. I could not have been happier to see my little girl, and I literally jumped for joy when I came to tell Dan that just 24 hours after her amputation, we would get to bring Fiona home.
Joy turned to anxiety, however, when after 4 1/2 hours, Fiona had mastered the art of refusing to take her medication. We tried everything in the book, to no avail.
Rushing her to the emergency veterinary hospital in Stockton at midnight, a resilient Fiona met an equally resilient Russian woman who somehow got her to swallow her necessary medications.
Through it all, Fiona never once whimpered in complaint.
Not even a week into her recovery, Fiona has already done everything we were told she should not do: She has run around with her toys, she has jumped on and off the couch and she has attempted to tackle climbing stairs.
We have tried to keep her resting, but she seems to fight us even on that.
We used to think that we could beat the system, that we could somehow manage to heal her leg to its original state.
And while we were wrong, seeing her skip around on three legs actually seems to suit her. It is a physical mark of her triumph against all odds. She wears it proudly (and frankly, she really enjoys the attention).
Nicknamed “Fiona the Fighter” after first writing about her in March, the name has stuck for all it is worth.
And we would not have her any other way. Three legs and all.