CAUTION: Photo’s in this post are very graphic.
1. The ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage.
2. Aggressive energy; initiative.
3. Skill; know-how.
Ben has been wanting a dog for so long that I can’t remember a day that he hasn’t asked for one. Today he found one. He was out back sledding and came running inside practically in tears. “Mom, mom, there’s a puppy outside and it’s hurt real bad. It has a big sore on it’s neck. Mom, can we bring it in and help it.”
My first response was no. I don’t need some mangy mutt with a “sore” in my house. My response took him from the brink into full blown tears. He really does have a tender heart.
“Alright.” I said. “Bring her up.”
I was not prepared for what I was about to see.
In he came with a small, adorable but severely wounded puppy. She was wearing her collar, but underneath the collar was a large, oozing, gaping wound. And I mean LARGE, OOZING, GAPING wound.
I immediately went and grabbed a towel to wrap this small puppy with a large wound in. Ben wrapped her up and sat down holding her in his arms like a baby. The puppy did not move. She just lay there with a blank look on her face. No whining, no bark, nothing but a blank expression and shaking like a leaf.
Now, as I have confessed before, I do not possess the ability to be a nurse. My mind is good, but my stomach is weak. I can’t handle blood or vomit or pus or snot or body fluids of any other nature.
First thing that needed done for this dog was to remove the collar, but there was no way that I could hold that dog, see the wound, get the collar off and still keep the contents of my stomach down. So I did what any other gag reflex challenged person would do and called our neighbor. Great neighbor that he is replied “I’m not sure why you think I’ll be able to get her collar off without puking either, but go ahead and bring her down.” So Ben carried her down the stairs, still wrapped in the towel, still motionless except the shaking.
Chris was able to cut the top side of her collar, but we were not able to remove it because it was imbedded in the wound.
We brought the puppy back upstairs to decide her fate. One thing was obvious. She needed a vet. Badly. I made a phone call to a friend to inquire about a vet in this bush town. Yes, there is a traveling vet and he happened to be in town this week. Good News. A phone call to the vets office, only to discover from the answering machine that he was indeed in town this week, but had left to go back to Anchorage on the mid-day flight about an hour before and would not be back again for three more weeks. Bad News.
Another phone call to friend looking for more options. No other vet in town. However, the vet’s assistant did live here, maybe she could help. Or Animal Control.
I called the vet’s assistant. Explained the situation. Told her of the direness of the wound. Explained to her that I was not a “pet” person, nor was I capable of cleaning up a wound of this magnitude. Her recommendation was Animal Control.
In this bush town Animal Control is also the police. I called the non-emergency number, talked to the operator, told her the situation. She asked me to call back in 1/2 an hour because her officers were out taking care of a DUI.
For the interim we decided that puppy needed to be made comfortable, so we made her a bed of old towels in a Rubbermaid tote. While we were preparing her little resting place Ben set her down on the floor and she somehow managed to work the collar out of the wound and to the ground it fell.
We made her as comfortable as we could in the tote to wait for Animal Control.
I knew what her fate would be with Animal Control and had to explain that to Ben. More heart break and tears. His crocodile tears brought me to tears. Could we do something, anything to save her.
Another phone call. This one to the emergency animal clinic in Anchorage. Explained the situation to the tech there. She said that first thing would be antibiotics. Could we get our hands on anything?
Called vet assistant here in town again. Yes, she had some amoxicillin.
Dialing emergency clinic in Anchorage. Told her we could get the antibiotics. What next? Clean the wound.
Clean the wound? I can’t even look at the wound without gagging. Cleaning would not happen under my watch. So I called another friend that I had heard was an animal lover. Could she come help with the cleaning? Yes.
In the meantime, the traveling vet that had just left Bethel a few hours ago returned my call. I explained the situation to him, he confirmed the antibiotics dosage and the cleaning regimen. Off I went to pick up the medicine and some puppy food. A $50 commitment to try to save this puppy’s life.
Also, while we were making decisions and phone calls, the police/Animal Control officers showed up. Funny thing, one of the officers in this small bush town is also a teacher’s aid at Ben’s school. Ben was excited to see him and showed his first smile of the tearful afternoon. His second smile came as I was telling the officers that we had decided to try to save the puppy. The officers still examined the dog to file a report because it was obvious this was an abused and neglected animal.
My friend Angie made it over a little later and I prepared her by showing her pictures that I had taken of the puppy a little earlier. We then formulated a cleaning plan that involved Dave and Angie and the puppy in the bathroom and me over at the neighbors. We moved the puppy to the bathroom where Angie gently finger fed her soft food mixed with crushed amoxacillin and got her first glimpse of the actual wound and gasped. It was way worse than the picture showed. And much deeper. She did not feel comfortable washing it out for fear of further hurting this poor puppy.
Another call placed to the traveling vet. No answer, so I left a message. Then Angie called the vet’s assistant here in town looking for advice. She still recommended that the wound be cleaned, explaining that is what would be done at a clinic. So Dave and Angie carry on. Puppy goes in the tub, gently held by Angie while Dave does the cleaning with gentle shampoo and warm water. In the middle of that process, Mr. Traveling Vet returns my call and again confirms what we are doing. At the same time that I am on the phone with the vet Angie and Dave discover what has caused this severe wound on the poor puppy. Some IDIOT has put a girls pony tail holder around this puppy’s neck. Seriously. A rubber band has grown imbedded into her neck and caused this large, oozing, gaping wound.
After the rubber band is cut away from her neck and pulled out of the wound (as told to me afterwards by my husband) and puppy is cleaned Dave applies neosporin to the wound, they gently dry her off and set her again in the tote to rest.
Not for long. Within20 minutes of her first dose of antibiotics and having the rubber band removed this puppy is up and moving around. Climbing out of the tote on her own and exploring the house. A completely different pup than the one that Ben had brought in the house four hours earlier.
Still, her wound is bad. We are certain that in a normal situation she would require many, many stitches to close it up and likely a much stronger antibiotic than what we have. But this is Bush Alaska, so we work with what we have.
She has a long road ahead of her. As does Dave, because her wound will require cleaning and neosporin application three times a day for a long time. But we think she’ll survive and if she does, in three weeks she’ll meet the traveling vet.
In the meantime, I think we’ll call her Moxie.
And now the pictures. Be warned, it’s not a pretty site.