Yesterday was such a beautiful day down here in the south end of California's Central Valley. Following our completed Saturday rounds, the spouse and I settled in the backyard to enjoy the late afternoon sun, the air and the critters. Weather like this draws the cats out, as it's warm enough to comfortably rest their aging frames in the sunny spot of their choice.
Darby was busy being his Doodlebug self, zipping around after the birds who dared to light on the lawn, barking at the neighbor dog to try and draw him to the fence line and coming back our way repeatedly so we could egg him on to his next adventure.
Then came Bob, the neighborhood cat who, judging by his frame, is pretty well fed by someone but doesn't seem to ever get indoors, as we find him hanging around at all hours of the day and night. Given the frequency with which he bounces over to visit us (when Darby's safely indoors, as Bob is a bright boy), we're of the mind that he may be angling for an upgrade from family friend to family member, but I digress.
Bob rarely comes into the yard when Darby's outdoors, but every once in a while the dogs on the other side of the fences seem far more menacing than Doodlebug so he takes his chances. Other times we may pop outside without being aware that Bob's in the yard, so Darby gets a romp. We never knowingly let Doodle out when Bob or Brindle (the other stray) are crossing through the yard unless they are well, well out of reach. It's not that Darby would do anything to hurt them, because he absolutely wouldn't, but because we have no reason to terrorize a couple of cats who don't cause us any grief.
Darby saw Bob and it was game on. The Doodlebug did a couple of figure eights trying to cover every inch of turf where Bob might have left a scent-print, head high and tail as high and tight as it gets. Little dude was having the time of his life, right until he wasn't.
There was no magic sound, no yelp, whine or whimper. He just stopped in the back corner where he nearly always stops at the end of his runs to make his last bark-howl of victory, only there was no sound of triumph issuing forth. Just the sight of him limping, or more accurately, hobbling back to the patio.
Eleven months to the day after his knee surgery, the Doodle appears to be broken once again, the pain emanating from his body posture matched by our own pain and sadness at seeing him suffering. We brought him in and kept him as comfortable as he'd let us, hoping against hope that it was something strained, rather than damaged.
No such luck. This morning he was every bit as bad as last night.
(For those of you playing at home, that is not the leg that was operated on last year. It's the other one.)
Shortly after taking that sad little video, which is not great but might be worth having the vet look at for perspective, I dug out a spare Rimadyl we had from his surgery and gave it to Darby, hoping it might ease his discomfort. It appears to have helped a bit, as he seems to have gone from horrible, awful pain to just really uncomfortable.
We'll be calling the vet first thing in the morning, paws crossed that it's not as bad as it seems.