Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Road To Recovery

The road to recovery was fairly short this time. I picked Sandy up at the vet, brought her home, and opened the liftgate on the van. Stoned on morphine and general anesthesia, Sandy tumbled out. So now she had a fat lip, but that didn’t deter her from having a pretty good bark and a lunge at the neighbor’s cat.

“Well," said Eric,” she’ll be fine, then."

The vet wrote a prescription for Tylenol + codeine. I gave Sandy half a Tylenol + codeine, and an antibiotic twice a day. Apparently Sandy will take anything if it's coated in peanut butter. She didn't mind taking the pills, but she hated the effects of the codeine. She staggered around for a day and a half until I discontinued those pills. She didn't seem fazed by the pain. When the antibiotics had run their course, I think she missed her twice-daily peanut butter treats.

Sandy had a drain in for about five days. It didn't really bother her until about four days. Once the vet took it out Sandy was a lot more comfortable and was ready for some exercise. Unfortunately, she still has stitches in, and the vet said not to take her to the dog park or let her get the stitches wet. Those don't come out till Tuesday, and in the meantime Sandy is ready to explode.

We've taken several long walks, all of them on leash. At first she stayed close by, which was fine with me. As she started to feel better she wanted to pull. This was a great opportunity to work on “heel.” At least I thought it was. Now, all she wants to know is “When does the running start?”

It might start Tuesday afternoon, after we've left the vet. I might bring her over to Enterprise for little play. I hope I'm up to it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Right Thing

Sandy got torn up by a Rottweiler cross the other day. This was a dog she knew and had been around many times. There were three dogs and two people, and suddenly the Rottie had Sandy on the ground with her paw on Sandy’s chest and her teeth buried in Sandy’s neck.

I pulled the other dog off, took a look at Sandy and phoned the vet to say we were on the way. Sandy had a deep wound in her right shoulder that needed stitches and a drain, puncture wounds under both her front legs, and tooth marks on her left foreleg. The Rottie was not fooling around. She was unhurt; Sandy never put up a fight.

The Rottie’s owner called me to see how Sandy was doing. I gave her the good news: her dog missed all the important stuff like blood vessels and tendons and internal organs. The bad news was the vet bill, and I asked for her help with it. Later she called and said that she didn’t believe that she was responsible for the vet bill, and that her dog would never have started the fight, and she was surprised that I would ask her for money.

What is the right thing?

In my mind, the right thing would have been for her to offer to help, or at least to agree to help when I asked. I believe, as she does, that we are each responsible for our own dogs, but I take that to mean that we are responsible for what our own dogs inflict on other dogs regardless of who looked at who sideways first.

She says no. Her dog has never done that before, and it couldn’t have been her dog’s fault, and it was irresponsible of me to ask for help with the bill. She didn’t say she couldn’t afford it. She said she wasn’t responsible for helping.

This makes me sad and it confuses me because I thought of her as a friend. I like her very much, and it’s hard to accept that we can be so far apart on something as fundamental as what is the right thing.

Sandy and I have a pact. I ask her to curb her natural tendency to brawl with other pushy female dogs, and in return I look out for her and try to put her in situations where she can succeed. Over the past two years we have worked very hard on this. I need her to trust me, and when she does I need to measure up.

The other day in the off-leash area, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to Sandy. She wanted to leave, and I kept talking to the Rottie’s owner. The Rottie came close to Sandy, taking up her space, pushing her over. Sandy knew she wasn’t allowed to fight; she submitted. She walked away. She came to me when I called her, but I still didn’t leave. That’s when the Rottie went for her, and Sandy never fought back.

What is the right thing?

Maybe by insisting on what other dogs see as submissive behavior I left her vulnerable to this attack. I let Sandy down by not leaving when she needed to. I left her in a situation where she was not going to succeed. She knew what is the right thing. She tried to tell me. I didn’t listen.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Dogs Are Not Cats

Last weekend Sandy had to stay in the kennel. She never has a real good time, and I can see why. The lady who runs the kennel is nice to her. She's nice to all the dogs. But it's not great staying in a cage all day, and wondering what happened to your people.

When I came to pick Sandy up on Monday morning, she was ecstatic. She ran to me. She jumped in the air. She barked. She rushed into the car. She rushed out of the car. She jumped in the air. She barked some more.

Dogs are not cats. A cat would've ignored me for three times as long as she had to stay in the kennel. But not my dog. Not any dog. That's what I like about dogs. They love us.