Dealing with Dogs on the 4th of July
Posted at 12:42PM - Comments: (35)
Well, how did you and your dogs all get through the holiday?
One of my girlfriends called me on Monday, asking if she could come up with her dog and visit for a few days, to escape the barrage of fireworks in her Bay area town. She has a sort of high-strung German Wire-Haired Pointer (is that redundant?) and the seven-year-old dog was already a mess, shaking and panting, from the fireworks he had been hearing.
I said sure, because I would love to see her, but warned her that it might not be much better here in my rural northern state town. But I didn’t emphasize this too hard, because I thought a visit with her would be lovely. Also, in my office/house where she would be staying, there is an enormous old whole-house fan that is so loud, it would surely drown out the racket outside while cooling things off.
She arrived Tuesday, and we had fun hanging out. There were some intermittent fireworks cracking in town on Tuesday evening, and both Luke (her dog) and my senior dog Otto handled it about the same; if they heard the POP or BANG of some firework somewhere, they would turn their heads sharply, stop breathing for a moment, and then pant and shake for a minute or two. We were able to keep distracting them and, with the house fan and the TV volume on high, got through the night.
Neither Woody nor my tenant’s dog (whom I’m caring for during the week, since her owner will be away weekdays at his summer job at a summer camp) nor the last of the puppies (six) that I’ve been fostering, even seemed to notice. So the household count was eight calm dogs and two nervous ones. I thought we might make it through the Fourth unscathed.
On Wednesday morning I left Otto and Woody at my house, and drove to my office/house where my friend was sleeping in with her dog (she likes staying there, rather than my house, as she sometimes has trouble sleeping, and when she stays in the house with no one else in it, she is more comfortable getting up and watching TV or something if she can’t sleep). I fed my tenant’s dog and the puppies, and let them run around the yard to play, before returning to my house to start preparing to have some family come over for lunch (my sister-in-law and niece, who live an hour away, and my sister-in-law’s mom, who is visiting from France.) When I got home, I started busying myself with neatening things up and finding extra chairs, etc. I noticed that Woody was snoozing on the big bed in the living room. I thought, “Wow, he’s really growing up! All that activity yesterday must have worn him out, and he’s napping!”
When my sister and her husband arrived, in advance of my other guests, Woody jumped up to greet them; he loves them! But when he was greeting them with excitement, it was then obvious that he was frisking about on three legs; he wouldn’t set one hind leg on the ground! My sister said, “Oh my goodness! What’s wrong with Woody?!” and I, idiotically, was like, “I have no idea!”
Fortunately, it wasn’t anything too serious… but I felt it necessitated at trip to the ER anyway (after lunch, after my guests left). Somehow (no clue how), in the hour I had been gone, Woody had ripped one of his toenails nearly all the way off (nail avulsion). The nail itself was cocked at a horrible upward angle, with the bloody, sensitive core of the nail exposed and obviously causing poor Woody tremendous pain every time he let that paw touch the ground.
I have had dogs do this before, but almost always when their nails were too long and it was always in a front paw. I don’t have any idea of how he did this in a rear paw, middle toe. He sure is special!
Once again, I’m fortunate to have good pet insurance – with a dog like Woody, I can’t imagine not having it – and a good 24-hour veterinary clinic about a half-hour away. I left Otto home with my husband, and my friend and I got into the car with Woody and her GWP, and drove to the clinic. She generously was going to keep me company while we waited for treatment, and we hadn’t wanted to leave her dog home alone with the fireworks still being set off in town intermittently.
It was about 4 p.m. when we got there – and we were greeted by an unusual sight: an employee of the clinic, putting up a sign in the middle of the driveway entrance to the clinic. The sign read, “No parking except for veterinary clients.” It took me just a second to remember that the clinic’s back border is the city fairgrounds – where that town’s annual fireworks show is held. I started laughing. “Well, if we don’t get out of here by the time the fireworks start, at least they can sedate Luke for us!”
As with any veterinary ER on a holiday, the clinic was busy. We waited about two hours to see a vet, but fortunately she made short work of Woody’s nail. She administered a local anesthetic, clipped away (or pulled off, I didn’t see) the hanging nail, thoroughly cleaned the whole area, and bandaged it all up. We were sent home with antibiotics and some pain relief (the ubiquitous carprofen) and on the way home by 7.
Back in my smaller town, it was sounding like the Civil War. As I hurried around, feeding and cleaning up after the foster pups, my friend’s dog started going into his full-blown panic state. My friend was prepared with a veterinarian-prescribed dose of alprazolam (Xanax), and she gave him his first dose then. (The blood levels of the drug take about two hours to peak, and start to wear off in about four hours, so he needed one more dose to get through the night.) Woody was resting on the couch, obviously having experienced some relief from the procedure at the vet, and oblivious to the fireworks sounds, still audible behind the sound of the house fan and the TV.
By about 8 p.m., I was ready to go home and see how my own fireworks-phobic dog was making out, but as I prepared to leave, my friend’s dog kept pasting himself to my side. It was odd, because he usually doesn’t particularly seek me out for affection; he’s sort of intimidated by me, usually. But my friend was starting to get anxious about his anxiety, and I think that was making him more anxious! “Alright, you two,” I said. “Let’s all go home and stay at my house tonight.”
The rest of the evening, fortunately, was uneventful. A little wine for my friend and me, a little more Xanax for Luke, rest on the couch for Woody, a little pacing and comfort for Otto, and we finally all got to sleep. Thank goodness for modern medicine, and for pet insurance.
How did you all make out?