When we found Fiona, her vet could not find any sign that she was spayed, so we scheduled her for surgery. To everyone's surprise, the surgery revealed that she was, indeed, already spayed. Her vet suspects that it was done very early in her life. At the time of the surgery, he also discovered that her hips aren't quite up to par: there is too much laxity in the joints. He explained that the early spay may be the cause of the hip problem as early spaying affects bone growth plates.

In September of 2010, Fiona injured her left knee while standing on her hind legs and barking at thunder, which she considers an intruder onto her territory. An exam revealed that both knee joints are unstable - probably related to the early spay or to the fact that her bad hips put more strain on her knees.

We waited for her knee to heal, but every time it started to get better she'd re-injure it so we decided to have it surgically repaired in June of 2011. After the surgery her activity had to be restricted so she could heal, so she became in indoor dog. As of this writing, she is going into her second month of being indoors and the knee is healing well but she's starting to get bored. Her vet says that it will probably take a good six months to heal all the way, though she won't have to be indoors the whole time.

Odds are good that we'll eventually have to do surgery on the right knee, also. Hopefully that won't be necessary for some time.

Update June 2012

By Christmas of 2011, Fiona's knee had healed so well that we could no longer remember which one she had surgery on. So far, there are no signs of any problems with the other knee.


On the evening of September 20, 2013 the dogs started barking furiously. It was their "snake bark," so as usual, we rounded up all the dogs, locked them on the porch, then found, caught, and relocated the rattler. It was a smallish (maybe two feet long) Western Diamondback. 

When we returned from relocating the snake I noticed several drops of blood on the porch and shortly after that, Fiona lay down and didn't seem to be able to get back up. She'd gotten too close to the snake and he'd bitten her on the right ear. This marked the fifth time one of our dogs had been bitten by a rattler, but this time was different. The other dogs weren't fazed too much by the bites and in addition, they were bitten while we were at work and by the time we knew what had happened, it was too late for antivenin. We took them in to have bloodwork done and they were put on antibiotics and that was that.

Fiona, however, was going in to shock, so off she went to the emergency clinic. She received a dose of antivenin, pain medication, and IV fluids and was hospitalized until the following afternoon. Her face and neck remained swollen for about five days, with her right eye looking especially nasty and alarming. 

The culprit

She's furry enough that it's kind of tough to see the swelling, but you can tell that her right eye is all misshapen.

Closer view of the right eye. As nasty as it
looked, it didn't seem to bother her much.

Sigh... She's more than worth it, though.

The day after she was bitten it cooled down quite a bit, spelling the end of rattlesnake season. Too bad she couldn't have held off for one more day!