Last week we received a phone call about a baby lamb who had been attacked by a dog. His leg was cut and his tail was completely degloved. The owners were concerned because they were not in a position to continue to pay for his vet bills, plus they did not feel they would be able to clean and wrap his wounds on a daily basis. He is only six months old and is a babydoll sheep, which is the same breed as the three already at Hanaeleh. Usually when people call us about taking farm animals, we often suggest a handful of other rescues, but due to the fact that the sheep needed immediate and daily care, we offered to take him.
Robert Bruce Comes to Hanaeleh
The owners had taken Bob (Baaaab) the sheep to an emergency vet the night he was attacked, so he had his tail and the leg wrapped (they wrapped his tail in cute sheep-themed vet wrap, and his leg in vet wrap with pictures of cartoon chickens on it). When the owners dropped him off at the ranch the following afternoon, we put the little guy into a horse trailer so he would be safe. We were expecting to keep him separated from the other sheep so they wouldn’t accidentally hurt him, even though his wounds on his leg and tail were wrapped. Bob had other ideas, however, and began baaing incessantly and pushed open the trailer door and ran (hobbled) around the ranch. We were able to catch him, but the fact that he seemed unhappy alone in the trailer led us to see if he would be happier in with the other sheep.
Thankfully, when we put him in with the other sheep, they were curious and even a little frightened of him, which at least meant that they didn’t bother him at all, and when we gave him some food he was able to eat it without being accosted. After several minutes, the other sheep decided that his food looked good, and began to join him, but were still respectful and didn’t push him out of the way.
We decided to call him Robert Bruce (after the kings of Scotland, Robert the Bruce I, II and III), because we just couldn’t call him Baaab.
Robert Bruce Goes to the Vet
The following day, we called several vets, but most don’t work on sheep. We were able to get one of our equine vets to see him, but they were busy, and so we had to bring the sheep to them (I put him in the back of my SUV with a waterproof cover over the back, which of course he tore up and then peed all over, so I had to shampoo my carpet the following day… just in case anyone thinks that it’s a good idea to put a lamb in their car). The vet agreed with the emergency vets in that it appeared that there was no internal damage, which was good, and it meant that Robert Bruce’s chances of survival were greatly improved. The vet was able to rebandage his wounds, and noted that while his leg looked good, his tail did not, and would need to be amputated. Because his injuries were fresh, the vet wanted to give him some time, but noted that the bandages would need to be dressed daily. This was an issue because the tail was very painful for him, and would require two people. The vet did give him an antibiotic and vaccinated him, just in case.
Robert Bruce at Hanaeleh
Thankfully Robert Bruce fit in very well when we brought him back to Hanaeleh, and seemed happy to see his sheep brethren. The vet said we could wait two days to change the tail and leg bandage, which made it necessary to change Saturday morning. It took forever, because we had to cut away the bandage, and the wounds were still fresh and we didn’t want to hurt the little guy. Then, we had to clean and rebandage both the leg and the tail, which was difficult because he would wiggle at the most inopportune time, but we finally got the bandages changed and redressed. We let him up and he started baa-ing for his sheepy friends, who finally came back. Although the areas were obviously painful while we were working on him, a blessing at least was that they didn’t seem to cause a great deal of pain when they were wrapped and not being touch.
Back to the Vet
The following Monday we had to take Robert Bruce back to the vet for his second antibiotic (this time I put several layers of towels down in an attempt to save the carpet in my car, which were quickly messed up, and he of course peed all over everything again). In addition to the antibiotic, I wanted to talk with the vet and see if we could get the tail docked sooner rather than later, as it was obviously necrotic and most of it was not salvageable. The vet agreed, and while I wanted to have him castrated at the same time, they weren’t able to do the castration for a few weeks. Because the tail was the more immediate concern, we ended up making an appointment for Wednesday, and decided we could do the castration at a later time. The bandage needed to be changed on the tail again, but I waited until I was back at the ranch, and was able to get some help to hold Robert Bruce while I redressed the tail.
And Back to Hanaeleh
On Tuesday, we had to change the leg and tail bandage again, but Robert Bruce was a good patient, and I was getting relatively good at changing the bandages. Robert Bruce ended up getting out of the pen in an unrelated event, but he stuck to Magellan as if they were both covered in Velcro, which was a relief! This means that we can eventually let him out to wander around with the other sheep- for now, we will just let him wander around in the stall.
Robert Bruce Loses His Tail
On Wednesday morning I drove Robert Bruce to the vet to have his tail docked (my poor car). As I was opening up the back of the car, he started to jump, but thankfully I caught him mid-jump, so he just ended up in my arms. I put him in the stall in the hospital, and left him for the day, as the surgery would be done later. When I picked him up, the vets all said that he was the cutest thing (THEY didn’t have to worry about the carpet in THEIR car), and changed his leg bandage as well, so that was one less thing for me to do. They did say that the leg was looking good. For some reason they saved me the remaining part of the tail (ick). I refrained from taking the tail (again, ick) and we put a very unhappy sheep into the car. The vet wanted to give me some pain medicine for the next day, but the only banamine paste they had was only for horses. I told them I had some injectable banamine at the ranch, however, so that wasn’t an issue. The vet did say I would have to return on Friday, however, for yet another antibiotic shot (my poor car is never going to be the same).
Robert Bruce Is So Over This
I had to go out on Thursday morning to give Robert Bruce a banamine injection. He wasn’t thrilled, but it was over in just a few seconds, so he was good. Unfortunately, the bandage that the vet put on his tail came off, so that afternoon I had to rewrap the tail and give him another pain injection. He was a little wriggly, but it was obvious that the tail is not nearly as painful now than it was before it was amputated. After we were done, we let him go play with the other sheep, who were essentially just eating Tama and Ruby’s leftover hay. He kept crawling underneath the stall, which was a little scary, but that was only to get a better vantage point in which to eat the alfalfa, and he was not at all interested in leaving his new sheepy friends.
And… Back to the Vet
Friday morning I had to take Robert Bruce back to the vet for another antibiotic shot (Is it cheaper to buy a carpet shampooer or get the carpets professionally cleaned, I wonder?). The vet changed the bandage on his tail and gave him his antibiotic as well as a pain medication. Robert Bruce was bleating the entire trip, and kept trying to see if he could break out of the back (I told him good luck- if that grate keeps my Malinois from breaking out, there’s no way that a mere sheep is going to crack it). Overall, however, he was pretty good- he did struggle a bit just as the vet was putting the bandage on the tail so she had to redo the entire bandage, but otherwise he was fine. The vet said that everything looked good, gave me some instructions as to how to continue to change the bandage, and said he should be completely healed in a few weeks. Yay!
And… Finally Back to Hanaeleh
Robert Bruce was very happy not to have to go to the vet again. We did have to change the tail bandage again because he managed to take it off, but we rewrapped it, and he was a good boy. We did let him run around the paddock with Tama and Ruby while Ferdinand and Magellan were in there- Robert Bruce does jump out of the stall, but he stays close to Magellan, so we weren’t too concerned. We don’t want him to go about the stable quite yet, however, as he could easily be picked off by a coyote or mountain lion. For now, therefore, we will just let him run around in a more confined area, or when he is immediately supervised.
We will need to get Robert Bruce castrated, but after that he shouldn’t need any more vet visits! We look forward to watching Robert Bruce grow up to be a happy, healthy sheepy!