It didn’t take long for Vulcan to win the hearts of the staff at the Ontario SPCA Lennox & Addington Animal Centre. The four-year-old German Shepherd mix needed immediate medical attention when he came into our care, and we rallied around him throughout his recovery.
Staff at the animal centre initially noticed Vulcan had something wrong with his gait. His leg joints were also moist from him licking, likely due to pain or discomfort. A veterinary examination and resulting X-rays revealed bilateral hip dysplasia – severe on the right side, and mild remodeling on the left.
After much consideration, it was determined the best course of action for Vulcan would be a Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO). The FHO surgical procedure aims to restore pain-free mobility to a diseased or damaged hip by removing the head and neck of the femur.
“To really understand hip dysplasia, it’s important to know that the hip joint functions as a ball and socket,” says Mags McLarty, Registered Veterinary Technician at the Lennox & Addington Animal Centre in Napanee. “With hip dysplasia, the hip bone (socket) can erode, so the leg bone (femur – the ‘ball’) that’s connected to the hip joint isn’t moving as smoothly as it should, and the two bones rub or grind together. With larger breed dogs, they have a lot of weight to bear, and that’s what makes this condition so painful.”
Healing journey begins
Before Vulcan could undergo surgery, however, the team needed to treat his allergic skin condition, as well as an abscessed tooth. Kristy White, Manager of the Lennox & Addington Animal Centre, says the staff really fell in love with him during that time.
“He was just a big goof and he loved attention, and the staff were more than willing to give it to him,” says White.
Because Vulcan would tire easily, White says the staff would sit with him in the yard, take him for short walks and play with him in the kiddie pool where he loved to swim and lounge. At the same time, the team searched for a foster or foster-to-adopt home for Vulcan.
Finding his forever family
During this time, Alison was having conversations with staff about whether Vulcan would be a good fit for her family. Her family has had German Shepherds for years and she says they were now looking for an adult dog to bring into their home. She says Vulcan stole their hearts right away and they decided to bring him home as a foster-to-adopt.
“He was just so sweet! His temperament was so delightful. He just kind of won your compassion immediately,” Alison says.
Mags and the animal care team continued to regularly check in on Vulcan and set him up with physiotherapy appointments. In the meantime, he was adjusting beautifully in his new family.
“As soon as Dave came in, Vulcan acted like, ‘Here’s my person,’ and immediately jumped on the couch and put his head on his lap,” Alison says, recalling when Vulcan met her husband for the first time.
A happy ending
Now officially adopted, Vulcan is finishing his final physiotherapy appointments. He’s now running after squirrels and is a very happy boy. Alison says she wasn’t sure what to expect from the surgery but was thrilled with the results.
“He totally got his life back,” she says. “He’s such a happy boy.”
Please consider making a donation to give animals like Vulcan a second chance. As a registered charity that does not receive annual government funding, the Ontario SPCA depends on the generosity of donors to change the lives of animals. Please make a donation today.
There are also many animals across the province looking for forever homes. If you’re thinking of welcoming an animal into your life, please consider giving a dog like Vulcan a second chance. View adoptable animals here.
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