The call came in late one night, as a member of the public relayed having only moments earlier come across a sheep in the middle of the road. Believing the hopelessly crippled animal had been hit by a car, they desperately sought our assist. Heading off into the dark of night, armed only with a flashlight and kindness, we nervously drove, turning down country road after country road. Just when we were starting to question our sanity, we spied the hapless animal, head peeping up amongst the long grass on the verge of the road. Indeed, her leg was a mess and in no way would it assist the freshly shorn ewe to flee. With little light to assist, it was into the van with Georgie Girl and back to the sanctuary for a more thorough assessment.
Our first priority was to stabilise the terrified animal enough to get her through the night, while having a rudimentary assessment of the damage. Given that the deep laceration of her hind leg had already been flystruck, it appeared the injury had at least a 24-hour head start. With no broken bones apparent and no soreness of her pelvis or femur, the chances of the culprit being an encounter with a motor vehicle greatly diminished. The answer all too soon was revealed as a reckless and careless incision made by the shearer as she had been shorn. With her Achilles tendon damaged, the total loss of use of Georgie Girl’s left hind leg soon followed, and our only course of action to restore some functionality to the limb lay in the surgical procedure called arthrodesis*.
Whilst we knew surgically we could repair the damage to Georgie Girl’s leg, we were greatly concerned we may not be able to restore her spirits. She was after all a flock sheep, whose only encounters with humans to date had not come bound in kindness.
Although not eating out of our hand or letting her guard down, Georgie Girl has proved incredibly resilient and more than comfortable with her situation and confinement. She curiously peeps over her stall to check on our movements and is developing a liking for Weet-Bix treats; she stands so patiently and calm whilst her dressings are changed and she is giving us every confidence that it will only be a matter of time before she is trotting down the pasture so fancy free—a new Georgie Girl …
*Arthrodesis is the artificial fusion of a joint, in this case by means of a metal plate and pi