Last Thursday afternoon, I was wrapping up my workday and talking through the day with Nanny when I suddenly heard a shrieking-howling noise coming from the direction of the road. I ran outside, and saw Duke flailing at the end of the driveway, and a van in the ditch nearby. I yelled to Nanny to call 911 and started running.
When I got to Duke, I saw that he had blood in his mouth and cuts and scrapes all over his body. He was trying to stand up and walk, but his back legs weren’t working, so he was basically dragging himself in circles and in a lot of pain. When I approached him, he lay still, and I petted him to try and keep him calm. I checked his mouth and noticed that his gums were white, which meant he was going into shock.
My husband drove up a minute later, returning home from work. I told him what happened and asked him to go and check on the driver of the van, since I had seen no movement in that direction. He asked me if Duke was going to be ok. I shrugged and shook my head, afraid to speak. His eyes teared up as he went back to his truck.
The rest of that night is a blur, but here is how things ended up…
The driver of the van, an 81-year-old man and our neighbor, had been drinking, but blew well under the legal limit at the scene. His blood alcohol test at the hospital was below the legal limit as well. The police determined that he hit Duke, then swerved into the ditch. The airbag deployed, obstructing his vision, so he was unable to see or move well enough to stop the vehicle for a couple hundred yards. He suffered cracked ribs, damaged vertebrae, and had six staples in a large laceration on the top of his head.
Duke was stable when we got him to our vet, but x-rays revealed a dislocated hip in his right leg, and several fractures in his back left leg. The vet tried to pop the hip back into the joint, but it popped back out again. On that night when I left the vet’s office, I didn’t think that Duke would have a chance at life, given the extent of his injuries and his already-diagnosed hip dysplasia. Things would change considerably in the next 72 hours, but on Thursday I thought we would be burying another dog this year.