Our yard is full of raised garden beds, trellises, poles and pegs and pineapples, any number of things that might slash the legs of a dog whose only speed is full tilt. When the Incredibly Speedy High-Jumping Shelter Dog got a little gouge on her ankle while chasing her Kong fetching-ball, which bounces like a Super Ball, through the far reaches, I figured I'd better find some place wider-open for our fetch sessions. I started loading dog, youngest grandchild and new Chuck-It ball launcher, a sort of atlatl for the suburban dog-owner whose arm isn't quite up to the distances this dog loves to run, into the trusty Subaru Forester and zipping off to the vast rear of our church property-- wide open, mowed, frequently played upon by school kids.
One day, we inadvertently crashed the school's break time, and the child-loving Tiger Lily was a hit with the students. They petted her and took turns throwing her ball. The schoolmarm pronounced her the school mascot. Great fun, until one day...
I suppose it was a good thing no children were about when she returned from a long fetch with a gash on her leg, a good inch long, and a quarter-inch or so deep. As I moaned, "This isn't supposed to happen! There's nothing out there to cut yourself on!" she went on nudging the ball to induce another throw. Instead, I rinsed the cut with some of her drinking water and loaded up to return home.
"What do I do?" I asked assembled family. Husband's family dogs had never bothered with cuts; they just got hit by trucks. Son-in-law, most experienced with dogs said, "It'll be all right; I wouldn't worry about it." (Or, as they say in Wyoming, "Just rub some dirt on it.") Online dog-care sites had advice aplenty about bandaging dog wounds, and ways to keep bandages on in spite of teeth. I tried. Neosporin. Gauze. Butterfly bandages. That rubber tape stuff that sticks to itself and not skin. Finally, Sunday afternoon: Steri-strips, layer of rubber tape, rings of first-aid tape, and several more layers of the rubber stuff. She licked, but didn't chew. Only, by morning, she had somehow shifted the bandage bracelet up her leg and uncovered the hideous gaping wound, which looked for all the world like we'd cut into a rare steak to test for doneness. Where the Steri-strips went, I know not. I called the vet's office. They said to bring her in.
"That's quite a gash," said the vet. And here's what he would do: sedate her, clear out the "granulation" in the cut, which had been made worse by her licking, stitch it closed, and put her in a cone. The Cone of Shame. Come back in two hours.
I carried her collar and leash to the car. I went to Trader Joe's and bought coffee beans and cookies and mesquite-smoked almonds. I drove around to all the Poke'-stops I could think of. And after the last one, on the straightaway toward home, the heretofore distracted part of my psyche began to shout, "You are a dope. You failed that poor dog utterly. How could you think you could doctor her yourself?" And so on. Back home, I carried the shopping bag in and made ready to head back to the vet's. The hubs tried to comfort me. I had to stop him because it made me cry, as sympathetic reassurance does, and I still had to to retrieve her.
Back at the office, I told the doc I felt I should be wearing the Cone of Shame. Well, said he, even if you'd brought her in two days earlier, given her, ahem, reluctance to participate in medical procedures-- it took two attendants to hold her still enough to give her the anesthesia-- he might have had to do pretty much the same things anyway. I told him I felt a little less miserable.
She's home, with her pain meds and antibiotics, navigating the house with some difficulty. That darn cone. But her stub of a tail is wagging again. She's more reluctant than usual to let me out of her sight, because LOOK WHAT THEY DID WHEN YOU LEFT ME THE LAST TIME. I promise, girl, in future, my mommy instincts will outweigh all other concerns, and if I'd take a child with the same symptoms to the doctor, I'll take you to the doctor. Because, darn it, I love you.