Texas A&M Veterinary Emergency Service Reunites Young Man With Beloved Pet Following Two-Week ICU Stay

Story by Dorian Martin

Tyland Lackey sitting on the floor with Dinger, who is wearing a maroon bandana
Tyland Lackey and Dinger

Tyland Lackey experienced love at first sight when a young mixed-breed dog showed up unexpectedly at his grandparents’ ranch near Caldwell in August 2017. After the teenager encouraged his grandparents to keep the dog, they named the canine Dinger.

Lackey and Dinger, who was about 2 years old at the time, quickly became best friends. The dog, which already would sit and shake with a paw on command, soon was dancing and cuddling.

“He’s sweet and lovable and just likes to play. He follows me around and sticks next to me,” Lackey said. “He’s just special.”

In September, Dinger was exploring the ranch and found himself on the adjoining county road, where he was hit by a truck pulling a trailer. The dog, whose leg was severely injured, scooted himself into the ditch and would have died there if a neighbor’s grandson hadn’t seen what happened.

Lackey’s grandparents drove Dinger to an area veterinarian, who found multiple breaks in the dog’s hind leg. The doctor said he didn’t have the capacity to treat the dog so Lackey’s mother, Alisa Hairston, rushed Dinger to Texas A&M University’s Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital (VMTH).

Dinger was quickly evaluated by the VMTH staff, who had difficulty stabilizing the dog.

“He had a fracture of his femur and was in severe shock,” said Dr. Dalton Hindmarsh, an emergency/critical care resident who handled Dinger’s case. “We quickly determined that he was essentially bleeding out of his leg because the veins and arteries were damaged by the fracture.”

Dinger was sent into emergency surgery, where the surgical team gave him blood products to stabilize his condition. They also found the dog had suffered significant physical damage.

“The leg developed compartment syndrome where there is so much pressure and swelling inside a closed space that it caused the tissue to die,” Hindmarsh said. “Unfortunately, we had to amputate and remove his leg to stop the bleeding and address the fracture.”

Because of the significant blood loss, Dinger required a massive blood transfusion.

“We essentially replaced his entire blood volume in a very, very short amount of time,” Hindmarsh said. “With that comes the possibility of a lot of complications. That’s why he was transferred to the critical care service, so we could care for him post-operatively.”

Dinger’s complications required him to remain in the intensive care unit for almost two weeks. He received several additional blood transfusions, pain management, concussion care, and rehabilitation.

At the end of Dinger’s stay, he suffered complications with the incision, which required a specialized surgical procedure with his wound.

The dog’s stay at VMTH was brightened by regular visits from Hairston (who works at Texas A&M), Lackey, and the rest of the family.

“His family was super dedicated,” Hindmarsh said. “They came to visit him twice a day like clockwork for 13 days. They were very involved the whole time. That was very helpful because he had a very good support system that kept cheering for him and helped him keep going through all of this.”

The entire family also is chipping in to pay for Dinger’s medical bills—including 16-year-old Lackey, who plans to tap into the savings that he earned from raising and selling livestock through 4-H and Future Farmers of America events.

“I felt a need to pay his bills since I’m basically the owner and I didn’t want to lose him,” the teenager said. “I also am setting up a GoFund Me page for his recovery.”

Dinger finally was discharged from VMTH last month, proudly wearing a 12th Man jersey given to patients as they discharge from the hospital.

“The hospital’s team was indescribably amazing,” Hairston said. “Within two and a half weeks of the procedure, Dinger was walking again. We are super grateful.

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For more information about the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at vetmed.tamu.edu or join us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Interim Director of CVM Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; jgauntt@cvm.tamu.edu; 979-862-4216