Poor Dobbie was licking his tail furiously on Wednesday, and when I had a close look I could see the skin was slightly inflamed and weepy. I bathed it several times in Vetadine, but that didn’t do any good, so yesterday I took him to the vet.
What I should mention about Dobbie and vets is that he is terrified of them. He didn’t use to mind vaccinations, and when both dogs were badly injured by a coypu some years ago he ended up with a hole going through his mouth and coming out under his jaw, as well as various deep cuts. But he was very stoic as the vet repaired him. However, a few years later he mysteriously injured his foot and almost cut a pad in half. It was obviously horribly painful, and he has never forgotten the experience of having it examined and treated. He is a huge but very gentle dog who loves everybody and everything, except when he’s injured, so when he needs any kind of treatment other than injections, he always has to be thoroughly sedated.
He was happy enough to go to the surgery, but as soon as the vet began to examine his tail he began growling, and had to be muzzled. Despite all the calming tactics of the vet, the nurse and myself, he shook and growled and struggled violently. Once she had been able to get a look at his tail, the vet saw that it was “hot spots”, and she’d have to shave off his fur and clean the wounds. So Dobbie was sedated and gradually slid to the floor, closing his eyes, until he was asleep.
Once his bushy tail had been reduced to a something more suited to a greyhound, and been thoroughly cleaned, and he’d been given antibiotic and anti-inflammatory injections, the vet gave him the “wake up” injection. Half an hour later he still was not awake, but twitching violently and whimpering. I began to get very worried, but the vet insisted it was normal. Another 15 minutes passed and he was trying to stand, but falling over and crying. “It’s normal,” said the vet, but I haven’t seen him like this before. His legs were all going in different directions and he was very frightened.
Pronounced fit to leave, the vet said she’d help me get him into the car, which I parked outside the door with the boot open. Two assistants looped a towel under his belly to support him, but his front legs were still out of action, so he was dragged through the surgery yelping, to the alarm of other people waiting for appointments. Between four of us we lifted him into the boot onto his cushions, ensured his feet and tail were clear, and closed the lid.
Then I couldn’t find my car keys. They weren’t in the surgery, they weren’t on the counter, they weren’t in my bag, they weren’t in the ignition and they weren’t in the lock of the boot. I’d only had them three minutes ago, so where could they be? A hunting party sprang into action, and we spotted them lying in the boot. Which had locked itself. It has never done that before, but it had done it now. The rest of the car was open, thankfully, but the boot was locked, and the dog guard prevented me getting to the keys.
The person with the longest arms tried to reach them, but they were tantalisingly out of reach by a few centimeters. She went into the office to get a ruler to hook them with, and then Dobbie rolled over on top of them. He weighs 85 lbs, 85 lbs of inert floppiness. It was five minutes until we could, by prodding him gently with the ruler, get him to move enough to be able to get the keys.
Back at home he staggered out of the car, swaying from side to side, and was carried into the house by three helpful people.
I can’t remember the last time I felt so stressed. Many years ago one of our Vizslas failed to recover from an anaesthetic, and it’s something that haunts me.
That’s when an unexpected visitor turned up. I hadn’t seen him for several weeks, and after we’d chatted for a while, my mind more on Dobbie than our conversation, I impetuously invited him to stay for dinner, forgetting that due to my new shopping regime – limited to a large on-line shop twice a month – the cupboards were almost bare. I had plenty of frozen broccoli, two cucumbers and three tomatoes, not much to create the kind of meal you give a guest. Oh dear.
However, I found a large bottle of sweet chili sauce and some frozen coriander, and thought “Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Chili Rice.” Main course solved.
But on its own it wasn’t going to be much of a feast.
We have a house guest staying at the moment, and he had bought a packet of smoked salmon and a fresh loaf in the afternoon, which he kindly contributed, and I found a small bottle of horseradish sauce. Starter sorted.
Then I went to prepare the chili rice. Except the long grain rice box was empty. All I could find was arborio, which wouldn’t work in Jamie’s recipe.
“Oh dear,” I said to the unexpected guest. “Do you like couscous?” Having just noticed a box at the back of the cupboard.
“Can’t stand it,” he said. “I thought we were having rice?”
“We were, but I don’t have any.”
“I have,” he said. “I always carry emergency rations in the car.”
How many people do you know who habitually carry a packet of long grain rice in their car?
And although it was a very impromptu and odd meal, we all had a great evening as Dobbie gradually regained his balance and roamed around wagging his skinny tail.
Funny old day.