back from the brink
http://www.kountrylife.com/gallery/a16652.jpg (Red Dog)
Red Dog (William Wallace) tangled with a skunk. It's not the first time. In fact, not a week goes by that he doesn't waltz past leaving a whiff of skunk residue in his wake. The difference is, this time he came out on the losing end.
The first clue was the knot. You could see it from a good distance away. Two puncture wounds on the bridge of his nose that had swelled to the point that he had trouble seeing around them. When he got closer, the second clue would bring tears to your eyes and take your breath away. Stink! Whew!
Two days after the skunk event, he began to act strangely. He took to sleeping under the feed trailer, and Fred almost ran over him twice as he refused to budge until the last possible second. Clearly his energy level had dropped to a pittance. I would call him at feeding time and he would come draggin' his behind across the yard, and then ultimately turn his nose up at his supper. He was moving in slow motion. I thought he was just stiff and sore, so I gave it some time. Finally Saturday, I let him in the house. It was hot and humid outside and he was panting and looking miserable. The skunk smell had all but disappeared but the other effects of the battle had become more pronounced. The swelling had not gone down, and the wound oozed infection. By now he was practically crawling to get around. He layed down in front of the fan in the living room, belly to the cool floor, and slept and slept while we stepped over him all morning.
"That dog, is sick as a dog." I told Fred.
"Yep." Fred replied, ignoring my stale attempt at humor.
"Reckon we ought to give him a shot?"
"Might. I don't think he's going to shake this on his own."
"How much, you think?"
"One cc is the dose, based on his weight. Two would be good. Three would be better." He said, peering at the dog. "You want to poke or hold?" He asked. Dumb question. He knows I don't do shots on anything over twenty pounds.
"You poke, I'll hold." I said and went to the kitchen to fix the shot. Three cc's of penicillin. I held the syringe in my hand, warming it, and searched around for something to muzzle the dog with. I found a soft cloth belt and wrapped it around his nose, careful to avoid the wound, and then beckoned to Fred.
Fred peeled himself off the couch, took the syringe from me and deflty stuck the dog in his left flank. Red Dog made no indication that he had just been speared. In fact, I think he may have slept through the whole thing. He was one sick puppy. I removed the makeshift muzzle, lowered his heavy head back to the floor, and left him to his sleeping.
Later that day I checked on him. He still slept. I offered water and he merely licked his lips, so I dribbled some into his mouth for him.
"He doesn't seem any better." I told Fred.
"Give it some time." He rolled over and turned his back to the car races on television, and he and the dog snoozed the afternoon away.
Gradually I began to see some improvement. When I walked into the room the dog would lift his head. I suspected that he might be hungry, so I gave him a cold hot dog from the fridge. It might as well have been a t-bone steak the way he tore into it. The hot dog woke up his appetite and a little bit of the sparkle began to return to his eyes. Every time I walked past the refrigerator I had his undivided attention. When I heard Fred later on, cussing at him, I knew it was time to put him back outside.
"Go lay down! Hey! No! Dog...you better go lay down! Get out of the kitchen! I'm gonna kick your...get...off...that...COUCH!"
It was all I could do, but I managed to drag his heavy rear end out the front door. The struggle left him weak, so he collapsed on the front porch and went right back to sleep while the penicillin continued to work it's magic.
By the next evening, he was pretty well so back to normal. He ate his dry dinner with gusto, and followed it up with about a gallon of fresh cool water. His tail began to wag at the sound of our voices again, and he gazed at us with what I percieved to be gratitude, around the still obvious knot on his nose. Now the knot didn't seem quite so menacing, but merely gave him a curious cross-eyed look.
After feeding, Fred and I retired to the front porch, the dog sprawled out in front of us. I massaged his belly with my sock feet and inquired of his health.
"You feeling better, buddy?" I asked, and his tail began a slow cadence on the porch floor, thump, thump, thump, and he lifted his head and peered at me with those intelligent gold-brown eyes of his. Then he rolled over giving my feet access to the other side of his belly.
"You realize now, that every time he gets sick, he's going to assume that all he has to do is go in the house and he will get better." I said, smiling.
"Yeah, well, as long as he remembers his manners, I can live with that."
"Oh, he will. He's a good dog."
"Yeah, he's not bad."
The dog gazed at us while we discussed him, turning his head back and forth as though watching a tennis match.
"He thinks we're Gods. You can see it in his face." I said. "I guess, in effect we are. We pulled him out of the miserable state he was in, and made him better."
"That's a little dramatic isn't it?"
I was wallowing in self-satisfaction and feeling ten feet tall, and I got a clue, I think, as to why some people choose to be doctors. There's no better feeling in the world than taking someone who is sick, be they animal or people, and making them better. With a little experience and a ten dollar bottle of penicillin, we pulled that silly dog back from the brink. Maybe it was a little dramatic, but dang it, it was true. He was sick enough he could have died, and I'm grateful that he chose to hang around the house, giving us the clues we needed to know that he required help, and that we knew how to give it.