Every litter of puppies seems to have its own way of playing and, even as adolescents and young adults, litter mates continue to enjoy each other's company more than that of any other similarly aged dog.
It's no surprise to us then, that Carew, Brad and Ezra (despite living apart, and having good relationships with our other young dogs) still enjoy bustling around as a gang of three, and being generally riotous together.
The usual "victim" is Brad who, being of a gentler and slower temperament than his brother and sister, is an easy target. Poor Brad, the combination of Carew's guile, Ezra's bulk and their combined effrontery often leave him with little alternative, but to seek protection by the legs of the nearest human. From this refuge he feels able to launch his own attack - as well as he can with Ezra hanging onto his tail anyway. Of course, just as with children, dog play can get out of hand (paw?) and someone who wasn't actually involved can come off worst, entirely by accident.
That's what happened on Monday. Lupin, one of our youngest puppies and quite a character, found herself in the path of three whirling dervishes who didn't even notice she was there. Brad and Ezra ran straight over her, and poor Lupin let out a pitiful squeal.
Now it has to be said that Lupin making a bit of a racket isn't exactly news. She has a broad vocal range, and is the first dog we've ever known who can keep up a running commentary on a half-hour walk without repeating herself, so although I scooped her up and gave her a hug I wasn't expecting there was any damage. How wrong I was. As soon as I put her down again, and saw the sickening angle of her right back leg, I knew it was bad news. Horribly twisted at the back, it looked (to my unpracticed eye) like a dislocation - and perhaps worse.
We're lucky that a local(ish) vet to us is an extremely sought after and skilled orthopedic specialist. It was Jock who mended Mel all those years ago (see Mel's chapter in "Sheepdogs - Off Duty") and we had no hesitation in taking Lupin straight to him to see what was the problem, and what could be done.
Lupin is now getting used to life with her back leg in a plaster cast and a (rather fetching) purple bandage. She has a fractured tibia but, at her age and still growing fast, is expected to make a complete recovery - so long as she's sensible. She's living in the porch by the kitchen, where she has plenty of space to wander if she feels like it, and enough corners to hide those all-important chews, bones and treasures that invalids collect around them. It also means that, for those spells when she's restricted by her Buster collar, she has room to manoeuvre to get a drink and we can leave the door open to the garden for her.
We're very impressed by her philosophical attitude to the inconvenience, but she's only been in plaster for 24 hours. It's still the honeymoon period. One thing's for sure, with Lupin's vocabulary, she'll let us know as soon as the novelty's worn off!