There are no bad owners, only bad dogs

2005-10-11

Eight lives left.

You know how life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing? Yeah. Me, too.

You know how what goes around comes around and you have to live for a long time before you get what that means?

In an existential mood today… We got home from our beach trip Sunday, car filled with happy, tired dogs, relationship intact (vacationing together can be quite a shocking, kimono-opening, appalling experience), car sandy and quite filthy. We were greeted by one yowly little cat-dog, but the other was nowhere to be found. Not an issue, as he is Adventure Baby all growed up, ready to take on the world wherever he finds it. Sometimes he gets busy with all that and forgets to come home. So we walked the dags at twilight, accompanied by Pumpernickel. She showed her usual style and flair by stopping to listen to a conversation being held by someone on the next block. Three people were standing there, chatting, and she just walked up to them and plopped her butt down, looking from one to the other as they talked. Then she walked into their house. She’s a hoot. They were cracking up, the mom yelling, “oh my god, your cat just went INTO MY HOUSE!”

So then she came back out and we continued. She was very jumpy on the way home, but I kept thinking that it was because there’s a cat who stalks my cat-dogs during their daily walks – apparently they just look like cats to other cats who don’t realize that my cats think that they’re dogs. The real dogs bark at this cat to protect their homies, because that’s how my dogs roll.

So we got home and ordered some Chinese food, got sleepy, etc. Then the greggers went outside to smoke. I heard him say “Hi, Buggy” because Buggy was home. Then he said “We need to take Junebug to the vet.”

Thinking that the greggers was just being a drama queen (again), I went outside to see what the big deal was. There I saw and smelled the wreck that was Junebug. One of his back legs had been mangled somehow, and gangrene had already set in. When I picked him up, he felt like a bag of bones – in spite of his injuries, he didn’t even meow.

Luckily, the emergency clinic is only a couple of miles away. When we walked in, we were greeted by the same compassion and care you get at a human emergency room – forms and signatures and method of payment before anything else. A woman who was waiting with her dog covered his eyes so he wouldn’t see Junebug. She didn’t want to see him either, but he was such a wreck that she couldn’t look away. His stink finally worked in our favor, as we were given priority to see a vet. The technician came in first to get a temperature and weight, plopping him on the scale with his leg flopping about as if he were a rag doll. She treated him with about as much care as you would a sack of flour.

When the vet came in, he told us pretty quickly what I already knew – his leg was paralyzed, dead, and was going to have to come off. “This is going to be a thousand-dollar cat,” is how he put it. Then he launched into the whole “Let’s not be too hopeful” thing that vets do. Might have feline AIDS, might have feline leukemia, might be wanted for international war crimes… Then he spent several minutes hemming and hawing about how they probably wouldn’t do the surgery there, that night. He had a bazillion reasons why – first it was kidney function, but then when Buggy’s kidney function was OK, it was infection and dehydration, then it was that it was an orthopedic surgery and they didn’t have the instruments. I worked for a vet in a small town for a long time (although everything there seemed to last longer – I spent a year in Del Rio one week…) and he did everything – your iguana was sick? Bring him in. Bird needs a nail trim? Fine. Is 2:00 OK? Horse, dog, goat, cat…whatever. There were only two vets in the county, so if they didn’t do it, it didn’t get done. Here, however, it seems that everything is so specialized that no one does anything. Which manifested itself later in the story.

After the wound was cleaned, it appeared that he’d been injured by a fan belt. There’d been a cold snap a couple of days before, and he may have crawled up into a warm engine block. It wasn’t a dog or other animal because it was one clean slice – no gnawing or punctures. No defense wounds. Just a severed hamstring. Wherever and whenever this happened, he had dragged himself all of the way home. He came home right after we did from wherever he had holed himself up.

So they kept the Bug there at the emergency clinic, hydrated him, shaved and cleaned the leg as much as possible, checked out his tail, which looked mangled but turned out to be simply covered in shit, tried to make him smell better, and gave him antibiotics. The emergency clinic closes at 8 a.m., so I had to pick him up around 7:30 and find somewhere to take him to RIGHT AWAY because it’s not like driving around with a healthy cat in your car is any fun – one with a rotting leg? You just can’t open the windows wide enough to handle that. I called clinic after clinic – some weren’t open, some were, but the doctors weren’t there yet, some were but wouldn’t do the surgery. Finally I found some angels of mercy that were both there and willing to take him. We went right over and met the Hot Jewish Vet (the greggers’ term). Buggy was handled gently and respectfully and I left feeling that he was in good hands.

Then I had to get on a damn plane and go to D.C. and worry. He was such a brave boy. He went through the surgery with flying colors, no fever afterward, eating like a teenager. My little tripod is all snuggled up next to me now, sleeping off his pain meds. He gets more in the morning, then if he doesn’t seem to need the rest, I can finish them off (like pills for a 7 pound cat [probably 6 pounds now] would even touch my central nervous system…). One continuing problem: Clearly, he should stay inside for the near future, if not forever. The dogs need their dog door. Do I spend even MORE MONEY and get the kind of dog door that is only opened by a garage door opener worn by the dog? My dogs aren’t smart enough to manage that. They’d manage SOMEHOW to lock themselves out or get stuck in the door (I’m not criticizing – two weeks ago I got stuck in the door of the new SkyLink train at DFW. When that signal beeps, they are seriously leaving NOW).

So, anyhoo, send psychic kisses and hugs to Junebug, who will be back to catching birds and snakes by the weekend.

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