When Eli was injured a few weeks ago, it manifested as pain and a leg he couldn’t put weight on. It looked just like the occasional knee problem he has but significantly worse, so I assumed that’s what it was. This knee problem is degenerative, so I figured we had entered the next stage of his life in which we do some palliative care and begin thinking about the severity and the options for treatment. It felt very heavy. Every time my little buddy has a health issue, it feels heavy to me. He’s usually very robust, save for some season allergies, and I go from zero to doom in about 2 seconds.
Three days after the major injury, he suddenly returned to normal. Completely normal. He was sassy. He was barking. He was patrolling. He was running up and down stairs with his tail up. I thought it was weird that his knee would be bothering him so much one day and the next day, it was like he was in his youth again. With some time “bought,” I started looking more deeply into the options for managing the knee situation from a preventative standpoint.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I am sitting on my bed chatting on the phone and Eli is in a little ball next to me. Scritches begat tummy rubs, and tummy rubs begat foot rubs. I mindlessly felt each of his feet to see how long the nails were, how long the fur on the bottoms of his feet had gotten, determine just how desperate he is for a doggie manicure, etc. At some point I felt what seemed like a toe with no nail. Weird, but maybe it was a scar or I was mis-feeling it or something. My hand wandered across the rest of the toes on that foot and I only felt three nails. Odd. He definitely used to have four toes with four toenails on each foot. And the nail-less foot is the one attached to his problematic knee – the one he’d been favoring when in pain. I counted the nails at least five times, as if I've forgotten to count to four in my old age. Definitely three nails.
So now I have a new theory. It wasn’t his knee causing him so much pain. It must have been his foot and he must have torn the nail completely off. How that could have happened, I have no idea. But it’s with some relief that I come to that conclusion. Maybe his knee isn’t as far gone as I thought it could have been, and maybe there’s still time to do a lot more preventative care for him. As much as I don’t want him harmed or in pain, there’s some relief in knowing the problem was not the problem I thought it was and I have more time to take care of him.
Eli, of course, being the grumpy-pants that he is, will let me feel the foot all I want because that seems mindless, but the minute I show actual, directed attention to it, he won’t let me inspect it. He’s like that with everything that he knows I want to see. Is anyone else’s dog like that? “Oh, you want to see this? Here, let me just obscure it from you and then run away every time you get anywhere near me.”