Please Do Not — Under Any Circumstances — Break a Leg

My friend reeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaally wanted to sign that cast.
I thought this splint was particularly, uh, fetching.

Break a leg.

While that means good luck in theater, it is most definitely the opposite at my house. Around here, it’s very, very bad luck — for a dog and the wallet.

Years ago, we laughed when we came home and found one of our 90 pounders crammed into the bottom half of a small, plastic dog house from a previous four-legged resident. It became apparent something was wrong when she refused to get out and then even more apparent when she started walking around the house dragging her back leg. It was broken and required surgery. The price tag: four figures. 

She is now — 12 years later — a happy, healthy dog who occasionally catches a live lizard. Still, it was a very traumatic time for all of us because Dog No. 2 had to be coned and crated for weeks, a situation she very much did not like and so she actually busted out of the crate on a few occasions.

And now, siiiiiiiiigh, we’re dealing with another broken leg.

It happened in the middle of the night. I heard my husband stumble out of bed and didn’t think anything of it — I was just happy for a pause from the snoring, even if it was only long enough for a pee.

The next morning Dog No. 3, our good-natured, fluffy, deaf girl, was her usual excited self, raring to go on the morning walk, but she was limping. Badly. 

“Uh oh,” Joe said. “I stepped on her in the middle of the night. I hope it’s not that bad.”

Oh, it was. Not $3,000 bad, but the poor baby had a fractured ulna.

After a trip to the vet, her right leg was fully swaddled from paw to shoulder and would need to stay that way for six weeks, with a new cast applied weekly and strict orders to avoid as much movement as possible. 

“Keep her in a crate or a closet,” the vet said.

Uh, easier said than done. Especially when we’re home 24-7. This dog NEEDS to be around people and/or other dogs. If she’s not at my feet, she’s snuggled up with the other two pups. I figured it would be fine to let her be free range. I mean, she mostly sleeps anyway. 

Well, it was most definitely not fine. That little toot surprised us all by jumping onto the furniture. 

We blockaded the couches, turned chairs to face the wall — strangely not a look you ever see in Better Homes & Gardens. I think you could call the arrangement Fang shui.

Dog No. 3’s least favorite thing in the world is to be picked up. Hates it. But it must be done if she wants to sit next to us on the leather couch or go outside. The other night Joe looked at me at 9 p.m. — when the pooches usually go out in the hopes that they won’t wake us up in the wee morning hours — and asked, “Are we doing good cop-bad cop? Am I bad cop? Again?”

Uh, dumb question.

“Yes, you are bad cop! You broke her leg!”

Complicating matters — because there is always something to complicate matters — is that our backyard currently has a 4-foot-deep trench snaking through it. Don’t ask. Naturally all the dogs like to sidle right up to the edge to poop — I nearly sprained my ankle one day sprinting to catch the little one as she scooted uncomfortably close to the ditch. 

While creative, this definitely does not look as good as the rock river that ran along here.

So then the fun thing that happened is that little Chewdini gnawed off the top of her cast and loosened it enough to slip that sucker right off.


After the second bonus vet visit ($59!) — and remember, she was already going once a week for a new cast — desperate times called for desperate measures.

Naturally, Joe, despite his role as Bad Cop, tries his best to put a good spin on it.

“C’mere, girl, time to put on your hat…” he’ll say in a gentle voice the dog can’t even hear.

But, we all know better. It’s NOT a hat.  

Ladies and gentlemen, The Cone of Shame. I believe this is the purest example of the phrase “adding insult to injury.”

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