Yesterday Bear underwent a surgery, and today we got this e-mail from Henry: "Well he's alive but the leg had to be amputated. He was in surgery for 3 hours and it got to the point where the vet made it clear that, as much as I wanted her to try and save it, she thought it was a bad idea. She called in a second orthopedic surgeon to look at it and they had no doubt that at best Bear would be in pain for the rest of his life if the limb weren't removed. Not only was the femur shattered but the knee was fractured in two directions and partially crushed on one end. The xray was scary to begin with but the damage was much more extensive than what could be seen on the film.
Bear is a tough dog, and he seems to coping just fine. He came home a couple of hours ago and hopped around the yard, amazingly fast for his first day after surgery, marking his favorite spots and wagging his tail at our other two dogs. For now he's a little lopsided from the swelling but when that goes down and he works on his gait I'm sure he'll be quite agile. It's his rear left leg and I hate to say it but I had to smile as I walked him around. He's taking two front steps for every hop in the rear. He was always a little light and high in the rear end, but this is light and high in the rear times ten."
I thought about Bear a lot today and decided to post some of his pictures. Both, Bear and Henry, are very special, and they share an extraordinary bond. The pictures show how devoted they are to each other.
Henry was a driving force behind legalization of blood tracking in Illinois. He is a great dog man, and we were lucky that he had approached us about buying a puppy six and a half years ago. Bear has always been a tough dog with enormous hunting drive. Even as a pup he required special, knowledgeable handling, which Henry provided. Knowing them both, the tracking dog and the handler, I am sure they will be out together in the field this coming fall.
I have a lot of pictures of Bear as Henry brought him to many NATC events, where Bear passed successfully two blood tracking tests, versatility, water retrieve and obedience tests. Read more about his accomplishments here.
Bear as a puppy - the one with red collar, to the right (the pup on left is Sherry Ruggieri's Auggie)