The little saga of Pippin's first injury

A uniquely exhausting New Year's Day.

The little saga of Pippin's first injury
Pippin sits on my legs, listening to unexpected noises of other animals through the walls; we're at the vet, the two of us on the floor, where we wait together for the experts to come in and examine Pip's right back leg. I smile at the camera, but on the inside, I want to set fires to all the things.

Every time I injure myself during physical effort, whether I'm running, skiing or dancing, the culprit is, 99 % of the time, fatigue.

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So it follows that, preceding this misadventure, neither I nor the dog nor Leif (nor even our cat!) had slept a wink the night before. On New Year's Eve, our young downstairs neighbours metamorphosed into hyperactive drunk brontosauruses: between 22h and 5h30, we were smothered in cigarette miasma filtering up through the floors, the screams and pulsing music of happy drunks rattling our shelves. The sleepless cat and concerned puppy were curled up against us in bed, Leif resigned himself to reading, and I spent the night with a pillow over my head, trying to zone out. I sent a few messages asking the girls downstairs to tone it way down: their replies were enthusiastic (with a minimum of hyperbole, I paraphrase: "ok we'll try!!! happy new year!!!!") as the volume went up and up. The sky was just lightening when their last guests stopped urinating in a neighbouring garden and finally stopped fighting over which cabs belonged to them. I was so relieved to hear them all finally go.

The outdoor staircases typical of the Plateau Mont-Royal are a unique architectural feature to Montreal. (Image source:

We were all zombies after that surprise all-nighter. Before planning to return to bed as fast as we could, Leif took Pippin out for a bathroom break while I opened all the windows — sooooo fun on the morning of the first of January in Montréal. 🥶

Pippin will be 6 months old on January 7: he's growing fast, limbs daily outpacing his proprioception. At his age, he gives 10,000% (slightly more hyperbole that time) into his every movement.

Leif returned from his outing with a crying Pippin in his arms. Motivated as ever to run up the outside staircase — gros soupir — but with his usual lack of coordination no doubt worsened by fatigue, Pippin had lost his balance and banged his knee hard against the edge of a step. He let out a frightful howl as he fell, and was still whimpering when Leif gently set him down on our floor. Pippin wasn't inconsolable, but it did take us a while to calm him down.

Over the next few hours, instead of being able to rest after a very long sleepless night, Pip's unusual behaviour began to worry us and we monitored it closely. Pain disfigured his face as he moved to get a drink of water, to go say hello to the cat. Around noon, as Pippin was still hobbling about on three legs, I called the two nearest emergency veterinary hospitals. New Year's Day is truly an excellent day to have an injured animal companion. I managed to reach the veterinary hospital in Laval, but was advised to keep him at home instead of waiting for very long hours with him in an unfamiliar place. That decision was validated a few hours later when our regular vet did confirm they could squeeze us in right before lunch on January 2. So we readied ourselves to waiting just a little longer.

The next day, the veterinarian's verdict was, thank the gods, positive. The injury is most likely a gnarly contusion just above the knee, but the cruciate ligaments are in good shape, no dislocation, no problems with the hip nor fractured kneecap to worry about. Pippin only needs anti-inflammatories and painkillers to help him sleep if the pain bothers him, and he's on strict rest from activity for 5 days: no running, no stairs, and we only go out so he can potty. FIOU! That reassured us quite a bit. Even if managing Pip's boundless energy for 5 days without exercise or walks is going to be its own challenge, it's a small price to pay (literally, as well) compared to more serious injuries!

I keep thinking back on my own sporting injuries (including that fractured radius from the summer). This is a lesson that applies to grown humans just as much as it applies to growing puppies: when you're tired, always underestimate the alertness of your mind and coordination of your limbs. And later, since everyone is injured at one point or another, the most important component to healing is rest, rest, and more rest. It took me a long time to value these lessons, and I'm constantly being reminded their importance. So for now, Leif and I are keeping a close eye on Pippin, who is visibly feeling a lot better today, and I'm thinking on how we can all prioritize rest a whole lot more in 2024.

Don't worry Pip! We'll be out sniffing for treasure before long!

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