The touching story of Nubbin, the frisky Jack Russell terrier, and owner Jessie Brothers just keeps creating new chapters.
On Tuesday, Lexington veterinarians performed some new high-tech surgery which, they hope, will finally resolve continuing problems with Nubbin's broken hind leg. Two previous operations failed to heal the break.
This time, the vets tried something more radical: inserting a metal pin and a plate to support the leg. For good measure, they added synthetic graft material designed to encourage new bone growth.
Nubbin went home with Brothers on Wednesday.
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"We had to take part of the broken bone which was loose and make a bone graft out of that," said Dr. Barry Hays, a veterinarian at the Locust Trace Veterinary Clinic. "I had read about this kind of procedure, but it's something I'd never used before."
Hays said an outside expert who is familiar with the procedure came in to help. The man asked to remain anonymous, Hays said.
Many people around the area have been following the story since late November, when Nubbin broke his leg while chasing a groundhog near Brothers' home.
Brothers, a retired laborer who already was facing the possibility of losing his home, couldn't afford surgery for the dog. Two Lexington firefighters put up money to cover the cost. Soon after that, Jessie Kennard, 34, of Oklahoma, saw the story online and recognized Brothers as the father he hadn't seen since early childhood. The two soon were reunited in Lexington.
Nubbin's leg, however, refused to mend, raising fears that it might have to be amputated. Veterinarians hope that the latest surgery will make that unnecessary.
A good sign, Hays said, is that the pieces of broken bone in the leg have remained viable.
Nubbin will be monitored regularly for the next several weeks, but it might take three months to determine whether the process is successful.
Hays says that if the latest surgery works as hoped, the pin and plate in Nubbin's leg will provide stability and remain in place permanently — but with one downside.
"He won't be able to go through security at the airport," Hays said.
The operation will be paid for out of money that people around the area have sent in over the past several weeks. Dozens of residents mailed in financial donations after reading about Brothers and Nubbin; others sent or personally delivered dog food, clothing and other items.
Efforts to help Brothers and Nubbin are continuing.
Brothers rents his small house on Whitney Avenue. The foreclosure problem stems from financial issues between his landlord and creditors.
Anthony Johnson, one of the firefighters who helped pay for Nubbin's first operation, said Wednesday that the plan now is to establish a trust fund for Brothers, using money left over after paying for Tuesday's operation.
"We have a lawyer in town who has agreed to help us set up the trust," Johnson said. "We aren't sure exactly how it will work, but what we're trying to do is get Jessie's home situation stable, with his home being in foreclosure."