My senior dog Otto has never liked fireworks, but he’s never been a total wreck around the Independence Day holiday, either. He will pant a little bit and pace at the height of fireworks and firecracker activity, but will still eat and allow himself to be comforted.
This year was different. He’s aging, and seems to be getting increasingly neurotic and anxious about a few things. If anyone is doing laundry at my office/house, for example, he acts like most thunder-phobic dogs do in a thunderstorm. I think he can feel the shaking or vibration in the old wood-framed house, and he paces and shakes and pants, and won’t take treats. I used to be able to just stop the laundry and he would calm down. In the past year or so, he’s gotten so increasingly anxious about the possibility that there might be laundry, that I basically just don’t take him there very often anymore. He’s happier at home.
Except for this holiday. There is a casino less than a mile from where we live – as the crow flies, not on our road. And apparently, this year, the management opened up the parking lots to anyone who wanted to set off fireworks and it seems like half the county took them up on it. I got home from my office/house well before dusk and Otto was a nervous wreck.
Where my sister and her husband live, several miles out of town, there is a strict prohibition on fireworks; it’s also a high fire danger area. I didn’t hesitate to take Otto to her house to spend the night. He is happy and comfortable there, and we couldn’t hear a single snap, crackle, or pop.
Back at my house, neither Woody nor Odin minded what sounded like a war going on outside.
The next morning, I went back to my sister’s house to collect Otto. I walked into her living room, and hit a WALL of skunk scent. “I’m so sorry!” my sister said. “Otto went out the dog door at about 4 am and got skunked in the back yard!”
I was the sorry one! Their house REEKED! I guess since they had been smelling it since 4 am, they had gotten accustomed to it. I felt terrible, until my sister asked me, “Hey, would you help me look at Dinah’s butt? She keeps licking it.”
Dinah is one of my former foster dogs. She was an anxious mama who came into my local shelter with one fat pup, and she thought it was her job to protect that pup from anyone who looked in their direction. At my shelter, that’s a death wish; nursing moms don’t get a pass just because they are mothers. If they are judged to be “aggressive,” they aren’t going to make it to the adoption row, so I had taken her and her puppy to my home to foster, about four years ago. The puppy got adopted by an acquaintance and my sister fell for Dinah. She is absolutely not aggressive, but super shy; when my sister and her husband have guests, she spends most of the time hiding under furniture. Most of their guests don’t even know she exists!
From Pam’s description, I was certain Dinah needed, at a minimum, to have her anal glands expressed, and perhaps a trip to the vet if one of the glands was infected or impacted. I pulled Dinah out from one of her hidey holes, and my sister helped me get her dressed in a harness. I said I would take care of Dinah, as my sister had to go to work.
Our first stop was at my house, to leave stinky Otto there. Then we went to Walgreens, to get every quart of hydrogen peroxide they had on the shelf, for de-skunking Otto. Next, we stopped at a local groomer; Dinah’s nails were super long and overdue for a trim. The groomer restrained Dinah enough for me to get a good look at her bottom. Sure enough, she has a sore next to the anus; she needs to go see a vet. I called the local clinic; they had no openings today, but could see her tomorrow morning. OK, I made that appointment. But is it an emergency? Should I take her to the emergency clinic in the next town?
Since I was close to the shelter, I decided to consult my friend, the veterinary technician there. She was busy with something, so I waited in the lobby for a few minutes, saying hello to my friends who are the front desk clerks there. It wasn’t even 10 am and one of them mouthed to me, “I want to go home!”
“Lots of lost dogs?” I asked, and they grimly nodded. But as one of them helped one gentleman at the front desk, when he was asked, “When did you last see your dog?” he answered, “Four days ago.” Yikes. I know I don’t have what it takes to be a receptionist at a shelter – a poker face? nerves of steel? – that’s for sure.
My friend took a peek at Dinah’s nether end and agreed that it could likely wait until tomorrow for an in-depth exam. She suggested we don’t feed her in the morning, in the likely event that she has to be sedated.
My sister just had a whopping vet bill when her other little dog got stomped by a deer in the empty lot next to her house. I feel bad that they have another bill on the way, but when it rains, it pours.
Dinah and I came home to give Otto another skunk bath – actually, his second in two weeks! When he was young, he got skunked twice in one week, and forever after, when we saw skunks, he would back away from them, licking his lips anxiously. I rejoiced and bragged that he was the only dog I knew who had “learned his lesson about skunks.” Well, all bets are off with senior dogs, from fireworks to skunks.
Next year, I think we will all go camping somewhere very remote.
I hope you had a nice holiday.