Saturday, 28 November 2009

In the Line of Duty

Poor Dulcie.

We were shooting yesterday and Dulcie and Podgie were the picking up team for the day. It was a hard day for them; they did extra 'dog' jobs - working birds over the guns as well as retreiving them. By the penultimate drive, Podge was limping. Her front leg. Probably twisted her wrist. She was retired for the last drive, much to her protestations. I learned that a dog's bark echoes quite a lot in the back of a covered truck. Excellent acoustics for a cocker spaniel.

Dulcie looked tired, not like the usual manic retrieving machine that she is. But she picked up 6 birds on the last drive which she hunted hard for, and then she stopped. She wouldn't go any further. I thought she'd just overdone it and needed some sugar water and electrolytes, and a good night's rest. I carried her back to the truck and brought her in the house to warm up. In the back of my mind something wasn't right and I knew to keep looking for the answer.

Although I had checked her for cuts, it wasn't until an area started to swell and get very hot that I found a small puncture wound. Puncture wounds are a 'big flashing light' injury. They look small but have the potential to be extremely serious. I felt an object behind the hole. Something had punctured Dulcie's lower abdomen and was still in there. Infection was setting in.

We rushed her to the vets at 6pm. By 8.30 she's had the operation and the vets removed a 2" piece of wood from underneath her skin. Very luckily it hadn't punctured the muscle or any organs.

The 'shiv'

She's got a drain in her and has pills to take, and she's going to be off work for a few weeks. She's recouperaing in the kitchen so I can keep an eye on her while I'm cooking, and Dakota seems happy to help keep her company. Or she's waiting for me to drop some food; it's hard to be sure of her motivation.

We're having a belated Thanksgiving dinner for a few friends tonight. I changed the menu to roast chicken so there are lots of leftovers to spoil Dulcie while she gets better. To think that little spaniel kept working until the end of the day, until the last bird was found. It's making me well up to write that.

Remind me again how much I love and admire her in 2 weeks' time, when she's doing the wall of death in her crate and howling to come out on a shoot day.

We've added the stick to the nature shelf.


wonderwoman said...

what an amazing dog - i'm not surprised you welled up - they give so much. Hope she soon recovers.

Poppy Cottage said...

Blimey Jen, Poor Dulcie. Hope she is better soon. Enjoy your meal, hope that there are penty of left overs for her!!

I'd love to read the book after you please.

Take care


Jennifer Montero said...

Thanks to you both for your well wishes. She's much more herself today, it's just a matter of keeping the infection out now.

She will be spoiled with tidbits until she's back on her feet.

Colette - I'll save you the book. A bit of a bodice-ripper but engaging. Mike's character is brusque and grumpy - just like him on a shoot day!

Sara said...

Ouch! Let's hope Temple Grandin was right that animals probably feel pain, but not the same suffering that we feel. Two inches of wood! Glad you're an excellent caretaker who gave her the thorough once-over to find it. Speedy recovery to her.

Pomona said...

That poor dog - you have brought tears to my eyes!

Pomona x

Jennifer Montero said...

Sara - I often think of Temple Grandin's perspective on animals' perception of pain. It explains how dogs like Dulcie can go on working with what to us would be unbearable.

And it makes it hard to read some dogs, except to say they're 'not being themselves'. I must admit that I know more about ailments in animals than I thought. The knowledge has gradually built up over time I guess.

The vet said it was a good catch and that it could have been a much worse prognosis if left even overnight. I was glad I was able to do that for Dulcie. She's an amazing little spaniel.

Pomona - I admit I had to hold back tears while I waited for news about the op! It's definitely love with dogs, as you know!

Paula said...

Just want you to know my stomach did a flip-flop at 'something had punctured Dulcie's lower abdomen' and didn't settle down until I learned that it hadn't punctured any organs. It's amazing how much I love dogs- even other people's! My own boy is limping on a new pain killer (he has polyarthritis and no hips sockets anymore), so he's going back to the vet this week. I wish they could tell you what hurts so that you could fix it- watching them suffer is agony for me. I'm glad you were all over Dulcie and got her fixed right away.

Jennifer Montero said...

Paula - Your poor boy! I hope your vets are able to prescribe something that makes him comfortable. It's hard to watch them get older (there's a whole discussion on that topic on the women's hunting journal at the moment).

I myself have started taking joint supplements as I am starting to feel changes in my knees and wrists. But as you said, dogs can't tell you where it hurts. Keep us informed of your dog's progress. All the best for him.