Jack is home from the hospital. He’s very puffy and patchy looking because parts of his head, neck, and face had to be shaved to assess the damage from Bella snapping at his face. The initial worry was that she’d damaged his eye or broken his jaw, but neither happened. Then we were worried that he might have a concussion, but that wasn’t the case either. What did happen:
Because his face was sideways to her when she snapped at him, Bella gouged the corner of Jack’s mouth and gums, causing a lot of bleeding there and she broke his zygomatic arch (cheek bone) on the left side. She also put some small punctures into his neck and the top of his head. There may be complications down the road from the bone break and the gouging of his gums, but at this time, there’s no life-threatening damage and although his face is so swollen around his left eye, cheek, and nose that he looks more like a bull terrier than a lab, he’s doing pretty well. He’s in some pain and very tired but so long as we keep him isolated from Bella-the-bull-in-the-china-shop until the bone resets in 4-8 weeks, he should make a good recovery, have normal jaw movement and–once the swelling goes down–his own cute face again. Right now he looks like FrankenPuppy, but he has a good appetite, is biting at our fingers when he can get at them, enthusiastic about soft treats, giving “kisses,” and avoiding Bella.
Bella is still very upset. She’s whimpering and whining and desperately wants to see him, but at the moment, she can’t go near his crate or Jack, since he’s very delicate right now. She is obviously aware that something went wrong and she obviously continues to love Jack–so long as he doesn’t try to take her bone.
So for the next two months, we’re isolating the two dogs from each other. Bella is allowed to sniff him, but only when he is safe in his crate and we are holding her leash so she can’t paw at his crate. Eventually, we’ll re-evaluate the situation, but not until the bones have set and the vet says it’s OK to let them have more contact. We’ll talk to a surgeon if it appears the bone isn’t healing well or that it’s interfering with his jaw movement. There’s a possibility that he’ll develop arthritis in that side of his jaw at a much younger age than normal and he may have some problem with adult teeth being impacted when they grow in on that side. But it’s also possible none of this will happen. He’s a healthy, active puppy and very resilient. He’s also in a growth stage where bones are still actively growing and the vets think he’ll mend just fine as a result. He does look tragic, however, so no photos for a while.
We will no longer give treats that could be a source of contention–only treats that can be eaten in one go and we won’t be getting rid of either dog. Bella is clearly in love with Jack–she’s just too big, strong, and stupid for his safety right now–so they’ll have a chance to patch it up in the future, but she’ll have limited contact with him until he’s big enough to hold his own with her. Jack is nervous about her right now, but we think he’ll be ready to be her friend again when he’s not in pain and upset by her behavior. I think they’ll be fine, in the long run, but for the next couple of months, it’ll be slow-going.