Friday, November 05, 2004

Attack of the Funnel Dog

Our middle dog Geaorge, tangled with something a couple of months ago that left a small knot under his right eye. We're sure some bug, like a scorpion, did it, because it appeared overnight. Heck it might have appeared in minutes. Anyway, the first round of treatment didn't get rid of it, so recently we took him back to the vet for a more radical bit of surgical removal. As a consequence, he has a bunch of stitches across his face, and he is now a funnel dog.

You may have seen these things. They are called e-collars because the resemble the giant collars and ruffs of the Elizabethan era. George is supposed to wear this thing for 10-14 days, until he has his stitches out.

Now the reasons for this are sound. Basically it boils down to protecting the wound until it heals. Dogs scratch, and those claws can be rough on sutures. It also helps keep dirt and what-not away. But they do make any animal forced to wear them look completely ridiculous. And even if animals lack concerns over their appearance and dignity (something I am given to doubt, even for dogs), they hate the collars, and with good reason. It's weird, it's strange, it's on their heads, and they don't understand what the heck is going on.

I like the vets we deal with, but one thing vets ought to be forced to do is spend some time with the animal at the beast's home before prescribing any sort of behavior modification lasting more than a day or so. In theory, George is to be on very restricted activity. He is to be taken on a leash into the back yard to do his business, then brought back in. No walks, leashed or otherwise. For 10-14 days from his surgery.

Yeah, right. This is a part-lab barely out of puppyhood. He's a teenager in human terms. These dogs are not slugs, people. They like to run around. George is no excpetion. He's also so totally a dog in that he dashes around when you come home, jumps up on beds with, gets in your face to lick it and get petted, etc. And there is more.

You see, George is a believer in the Squirrel Conspiracy. I'm not entirely sure what he thinks they are going to do if they get to hang out in our yard unmolested, but whatever it is, its bad. Really bad. And it is his job to make sure they are kept away. And he has to be out there as much as possible keeping an eye on things.

It has more than a small element of the ludicrous. If we're upstairs, every time we move towards the stairs, he's down them. And waiting. I really do not know if I can impress on y'all just how eager this dog is to run outside. I can stretch a certain way while sitting in my chair at my computer, and he's off whatever bed he's laying on and down to the landing. Assuming of course, he hasn't been sleeping on the landing in order to get a head start on the next opening of the door.

By now you've probably figured out that the odds of keeping such a dog in restricted activity are somewhere between slim and none. At least, not if I have any interest in maintaining my own sanity. We have two other dogs that like to go out periodically and check to make sure the squirrels haven't tried anything funny (they just aren't obsessed about it), and George would go nuts (no pun intended) if he were prevented from joining them. So he has to go out unsupervised (for at least short periods) and he has to go on walks.

Now, remember that e-collar he has to wear? In order to do its job, it has to cover his face, which means that it sticks out, funnel-like, all around his head. What should be the predictable result of a largish but lean dog who likes to dash about but now has to carry around something bigger than he is?

Yup, he crashes into everything. He's knocked stuff off the coffee table, cleared the fridge of low hanging magnets, walloped my legs innumerable times, scratched up walls, moved chairs and smashed into doorways. He also broke the first collar in about 24 hours. I ran out and got another, and so far its holding, but it does have a (duct taped) crack in it, and the snaps that hold it in place have been yanked out at least three times so far.

We've got about 7 days to go before he can get rid of the stitches and collar. I'm not sure anything below three feet is going to be able to make it that long.

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