A young Jack Russel of my acquaintance is now newly christened Kamikaze Jack.When Jack presented at Kildare Vet yesterday he had some bruises and a shoulder injury. While I xrayed Jack to reveal nothing more sinister than a bad sprain his owner told a tale of derring-do and a death-defying leap.
Home alone while his owner shopped, Jack was locked in the kitchen as a regular routine. This recent fine day his owner returned home to find his dog in the garden at play. Doors remained locked. No other family member had been home. How did Jack get out?
A neighbour solved the mystery by reporting that he had watched while Jack poked his nose out an upstairs window,tentatively placed first one paw on the windowsill, then squarely positioned the other paw for take-off, until with ears cocked confidently forward, Jack had launched himself groundward off the upstairs windowsill.
Jack landed with nose, teeth and shoulders all a muddle. Like a tangled canine Wilbur Wright. True also to my son Daniel's favourite Buzz lightyear catchphrase " flying is falling with style"!
The solution for this owner now is to obtain a travel crate which is a type of collapsible cage large enough for a dog bed. Kamikaze Jack will now be cage bound in his owner's absence to curb further flights of fancy.
This behaviour is indeed strange in a dog. And of course in this case our patient was lucky not to sustain serious injury. Cases of falling cats are altogether more common however and a myriad of injuries are seen in association with cats falling from buildings.
Veterinary hospitals in New York first reported high-rise fall injuries in felines in Manhattan in the sixties. Appropriately they termed these cases " High Rise Syndrome". What made these cases news worthy was the surprisingly high survival rate in those cats who made it as far as the veterinary hospital after an often shocked and traumatised owner had peeled their pussy off the pavement.
This catalogue ( if you'll pardon the pun)of feline falls reveals the following; Two or three storey falls are more likely to be fatal than a five to ten storey fall. Survival rates were optimal for six storey falls as cats have time to right themselves to extend all four limbs ground-first but not time to reach terminal velocity. Having reached terminal velocity all is not lost as the cat will sprawl all four to extend body area in order to dissipate its force of impact. Their lower ratio of body mass to surface area is also an advantage cats have over many other species including of course the hapless human jumper.
The "record" is reportedly held by Sabrina ( not a teenage witch) who lived to meow the tale of her 32 storey fall off a frosty Manhattan window ledge. Incidentally the sorts of injuries these falling cats sustained were often no more serious than a few broken ribs, cracked jaw or chipped teeth.Of course critically serious injuries can also occur. But the good doctors of Happy Vet 5th Avenue can and will save one of your proverbial squashed cats nine lives IF your credit card can bear the pain. Strong Coffee and plush waiting rooms come as standard.