I don't normally post non-work stuff into my blog, but it happens every now and then. If you want a quick laugh, this might fit the bill for you.
Life with a clumsy dog
As I settled down onto the bench in the vet’s waiting room Rusty was sniffing around on the floor, head down, quite intent. So intent in fact that he banged his head on the edge of the bench. The dull thud echoed around the room, and the woman sat next to me said ‘Ooops... is he a bit careless?’ Before answering her I thought back over the last six months...
It should have been obvious to me at the start really – the first time I met Rusty he was in a large kennels, with his own space in a large enclosed well maintained barn. He padded straight up to me, and when I knelt down to say hallo, wagged his tail a lot. Then he lay down, flipped onto his back for a tummy tickle (either that, or he wanted to show me that he really was a stud dog both in name and physical prowess) and then sat up and tucked his head under my arm. That was basically it and I knew then that he’d got me, and I wasn’t going to leave without him. The breeder said casually ‘he likes his ball’ and threw me a tennis ball. I took it and looked at Rusty, who was basically imploring me to throw it for him, so I made a half hearted attempt. The tennis ball skittered down the length of the barn and Rusty set off in hot pursuit. The ball hit the door and bounced back, but unfortunately the hound wasn’t quite that quick, or perhaps he was too quick, because he came to a stop by simply hammering himself into the door. Within a second or so he was off again racing for the ball, which he got and brought back to me. I threw it again, and once again, he raced the length of the barn, thumped into the door and back he came. It should have been obvious to me at that point – the God of the Canines was looking down at me and basically shouting ‘Look you moron – this dog has very little by the way of brain and even less of self preservation, escape while you still can!’ However, the soft brown eyes rendered me incapable of listening to any sense, and the deed was done, the dog was mine.
Things went very well. For a couple of days. Well, until I let him off the lead that is, at which point he realised that he could run far and wide after a ball, without bashing into any walls, doors or other annoying encumbrances. I took him up to the meadows, which is a lovely open air space with lots of hills, grass, walks and all sorts of doggy goodness, and the threw the ball for him. He was off like a rocket, and this developed into a good game quite quickly. However, I then made the mistake of throwing the ball downhill, and it bounced badly. The hairy arsed muppet leapt for it, misjudged his leap and landed on one back leg. He yelped; a lot. I dashed over and we both stood and looked at his passenger side back leg, which was not quite at the angle it was when we went out. I looked at him, he looked at me, and he then picked up the tennis ball and stood there on three legs. He was clearly expecting me to throw it again and had the look of a footballer in pain in a cup final saying ‘it’s ok, I’ll run off the pain gaffer’. I didn’t think that this was wise, so we limped back to the car, while Rusty was reciting the bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail ‘Tis but a scratch. The leg is still connected, I’ve had worse’ or words to that effect.
So we made our first proper visit to the Vets, or as I like to call it, ‘home’. We met Gareth, who was soon to become our personal vet. You know how some people say ‘I’ll talk to my lawyer’ or ‘See my accountant’? Well, I do the same thing, only with me it’s along the lines of ‘I’ll have a chat to my vet about it’. Only in my case, the vet’s bills costs a damn sight more than either a lawyer or accountant. However, in we went, and the muppet did his ‘I’m a good dog I am, and this was entirely an accident’ routine, and Gareth just bought it hook line and sinker. After some deliberation he decided that he’d just strained a ligament. He’s a good bloke is Gareth, but he does like to warn you about everything, so before saying ‘Oh, it’s nothing, he’ll be alright in a few days’ he started by saying ‘Well, it could be an inflamed vetigulated ararythmic anterior cross muscular injury that could cost you thousands if I have to operate’. It might not have been those exact words you understand, though I distinctly remember the ‘thousands’ bit. It’s not the kind of thing you’re likely to forget really is it? Anyway, short walks on the lead for a few days, well sorted. Between those and the anti inflammatory pills we were fine.
I should also point out that I have a hatchback car, and Rusty sits in the back. He likes this because he can look forward and bark at me, like the doggy version of a backseat driver, but his advice is limited to ‘look out, there’s a lamppost! Look out, there’s another lamppost! Mind that lamppost!’ with the occasional whine when we drive past a particularly attractive Labrador which I think is the doggy equivalent of ‘cor, look at the tail on that!’ But I digress – he jumps happily into the back of the car and sits upright with his ‘where are we going today?’ look. I always say ‘Sit down and mind your head’, and he starts to sit down, while I shut the boot. Only he never actually makes it all the way down, because he sits up again, resulting in his head hitting the glass. However I try it, the same thing happens. I get him to sit, to lie, whatever – up he pops, down comes the boot lid and *thump*. I think he likes it, I swear to god.
Anyway, all went well. For a week or so – heck, it might even have been an entire month, but when I let him out of his crate one morning he was limping. Rather a lot, and this didn’t sound or look good to me, and the ‘thousands’ conversation came back to haunt me with the enthusiasm of a contraceptive seller at a dogging convention. (I should point out that I don’t know if they have dogging conventions, and if they do, I’m certainly not attending, even though I have a dog. He’d probably lie down in his back and say ‘never mind those perverts, look at what a real stud dog has to offer’.) Back we went to see Gareth. ‘Hallo Rusty’ he said, with obvious pleasure at seeing my hopeless hound. It turned out that this time my canine klutz had damaged the digit on the same rear passenger leg. I should explain at this point that when Rusty runs after a ball and doesn’t have a door to slam into in order to help him stop, he just spreads his back legs slightly apart and skids to a halt, chucking up more dust and muck into the air than an enthusiastic Icelandic volcano. Some of this mud got under the nail, it got infected and there we were, back on short leaded walks. That’s leaded as in ‘collar and’ rather than ‘dirty great weight around your neck dragging you down’, although thinking about it....
So, antibiotics and anti inflammatories again. I think he was having so much anti medicine I could have taken him to a protest march – any protest march and he’d have been there at the front, barking along to ‘What do we want? Tennis balls! When do we want them? Woof!’ A week later, back to see Gareth to check out the digit, and all is well. Hurrah! Now, I know it’s my fault, and I shouldn’t have said it, and I regretted it as soon as the words were out of my mouth, but I said ‘well, shan’t be seeing you until next year for his next jabs now’.
Next year? Next year? Poor deluded fool – try 3 bloody days later if you please. Now, when Rusty isn’t trying to injure himself, he’s attempting to drown. Most dogs, when they go in the water keep their heads above it, but not mine, not Mr ‘Look dad, this is my impression of a submarine’. Head straight under, bubbles coming up, the works. Not that he is drowning you understand, he just likes swimming under water. Finally he emerged, shook himself dry and then looked at me as if to say ‘Right, where were we? Oh yes, submarines’ and dived in again. Consequently, his ears became home to the Tom Daley school of waterborne bacteria. Gareth looked up as we came in and said brightly ‘Hallo Rusty!’. Nice to see they were on first name terms I suppose. My dog did the whole simpering ‘Ohhh Gareth, how lovely to see you again’ while he settled himself nicely on the floor waiting for attention. Gareth looked at me and said ‘back leg again is it?’ and I had to confess it was something different. By this point I’m thinking that I should be employed by the British Veterinarians Association to check out their members knowledge of the canine species. A quick poke around and we’re sorted. Drops this time, but no short walks, just a limit on submarine practice.
You’d think that would be enough really wouldn’t you. I mean – that’s not a bad number of visits to the vets in a short period of time. Believe me, we’re not even started yet, because a couple of weeks later, open crate, out walks Mr Limpy and we visit the vet again. Into the examining room we go and I swear that Gareth has some sort of book going by now, because he cheerfully says ‘ears, leg, or something different this time?’ I just mumble words that should not be spoken and point at my dogs back leg again. It’s the toe once more, only this time the nail has decided that being used as a brake is enough, and it’s decided that it’s going to vacate its position and go off in search of fame and fortune elsewhere. It probably has its own show at the Edinburgh Fringe ‘My life as a dogs digit’ or some such. By now I’m able to just tell Gareth what he should prescribe and for how long. I swear, it would be easier to have a top of the range Aston Martin – certainly a damn sight cheaper to maintain. Gareth also agrees with me and says ‘I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you need to bring him back again’. It’s rather concerning that in a few short months I’ve gone from not owning a dog to apprentice nurse.
We had a great week. Really, we did. No damaged legs, no water, nothing. Just me, the dog and a tennis ball. So why was his eye looking sore and weepy? Can’t mess around with eyes, so back we go. Gareth beams, I glower and my dog leaps into the examination room, lies down on his back, legs apart and looks up at his best friend as if to say ‘what do you think of my kit then? Huh? Huh?’ Did I mention he has no shame – he’ll have a go at anything he can get a leg over and a few things he can’t. Remind me to tell you about the time he and another dog called Barney went for it. It was a two dog gay orgy I tell you. I’d never seen two male dogs trying the ‘69’ position before, but Barney and Rusty were right at it. Honestly, I didn’t know where to look.
Anyway, back to his eye. Gareth pops in some drops and we look at it under ultra violet light. Now, this is going to sound grim, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. He’d managed to puncture his eyeball, and had got an ulcer. Ok, it is as bad as it sounds. He’d obviously gone after his tennis ball, launched himself into a thicket without a second to think ‘hmm, is this really a good idea?’ and made good friends with a bramble bush. Gareth went through the usual routine of vet speak which once again included the words ‘thousands’ in there, but to be honest by this time I was getting immune to it. More drops again. The stuff Gareth put into Rusty’s eyes also dripped out of them as you’d expect, but also out of his nose. Which was fine, except that it was bright lime green. It was at this point Rusty looked up at me and said ‘Look dad, this is my impression of a zombie dog from Radioactive City!’ That was fine, except as we left a little old lady was coming in with her small rat on a stick while me and Mr Zombie stopped to let her pass – I thought she was going to faint, and she would have, except that I manage to yank Rusty’s lead before he could flip up on his back and wave his bits at her, using the line ‘I’ve got more energy in my bits than a nuclear power station.’
Days passed. Weeks even. We went for walks, a dip in the sea, tennis ball chases, the works. A nice holiday was on the cards – down to Cornwall, for more long walks and beaches and sea. I was very careful, and only threw the ball short distances, kept him away from puddles, the works. Bee and I took him to see her mother, and he stayed out in the back garden playing with two children. All together now, what could possibly go wrong? Honestly – a Frisbee. A straight forward Frisbee – round and plastic. Short of trying to gulp it down, what harm could it do. Well, it was a bit old apparently, so when he chomped on it, it splintered a bit, and he managed to stand on a sharp bit. Then he padded into the house and we played ‘Look dad, this is my impression of a slaughterhouse!’. Blood pouring everywhere. He wasn’t bothered by this point, as I think the only thing in his mind was ‘Whee, a trip to see Gareth, it’s been *ages*’.
An inch long quite deep cut requires stitches; rather a lot of them. No anti- inflammatories this time, which was a real shame, since I thought I’d take them instead – they might help with my blood pressure. Rusty came out with a blue bandage, really nice. ‘Don’t get it wet’ they said. I explained the situation – Cornwall, walks, sea, beaches... ‘Don’t let him go for walks’ they said. So I tried again; Cornwall, walks, sea and beaches. The staff looked sympathetic and simply said ‘Not great timing really is it?’Did I mention that they all have a dry sense of humour? My dog didn’t help at all – he just sat there, thumping his tail, looking at Gareth before lying down again and showing him his bits once again with a look of ‘my paw might be out of action, but there’s nothing wrong with the rest of me!’
So, back home to house arrest. Only out in the back garden briefly for business, then back in again. Now, when you have an energetic dog, he’s got to be kept busy. I usually do that with long walks, exercise and tennis balls. He does it by stealing entire loaves of bread, chewing up socks and removing nice blue bandages. Back to the vet for a new one. This time we see a nurse, but this doesn’t stop my canine Cassanova, not a bit of it. The nurse says to me ‘Can we get him on his side?’ and no sooner are the words out of her mouth than he’s flat on his back, legs akimbo, looking at the nurse with a look on his face of ‘So, what do you think of the puppy making kit then, huh? Huh?’ New bandage, sorted, while the nurse and I make sure we don’t make eye contact. Two days later, up he wanders, no bandage. So I put a sock on his leg, wrap it around with micropore, then cover the sock in clingfilm, then cover all of that with duct tape, and remarkably it works. For oh... well, until he gets bored with it really, but by then, back we go to the vets for a checkup on how the stitches are healing. Many more and he’s going to start his ‘look dad, this is my imitation of Frankenstein’s dog’ act.
I sit down, Rusty sniffs around and *thud* his head cracks into the bench, and I shake my head ending my reminiscences , listening as the woman sitting next to me says ‘Yes, lovely lad, but is he a bit careless?’ I simply smiled at her, stroked his head and said ‘Why, whatever gave you that idea?’