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Friday, December 14, 2012

Dog Bites Man

I know—“dog bites man” is the oldest story in the book. Such that it’s not considered news. But recently it became personal. A couple of days ago our old dog bit my husband.

The reason for the bite? My husband had gently tried to wipe some of the “goop” near Schatzie’s eye. No stitches required but at least two puncture sites near the fingernails. And a throbbing redness.

As on most days, my husband had painstakingly walked Schatzie to the park at the dog’s snail’s pace. The dog can hardly walk but still thinks he should go to the park. My husband then gave Schatzie his many medications in homemade cheese balls. And then fed Schatzie a carefully crafted breakfast.  Which the dog turned his nose up at. I added more goodies to try to get our skinny dog to eat. 

You might say that the biting is excusable. After all Schatzie has dementia. And is in pain with arthritis. On his last leg, so to speak.

But that’s not really what’s going on. Biting is what Schatzie did in his prime. For example, Schatzie bit us—twice each--after we first inherited him from my Mom. It’s only in his later stages of dementia that for the most part he has forgotten his aggressive ways

My husband, bless his heart, (Please forgive the only language quirk I picked up from living in Alabama for two years. I believe it roughly translates to you are saying or doing something stupid but I’m too polite to say that.) does not blame Schatzie. Here is what he said: “Biting is the one thing that dogs can do to let the humans know they don't like what they're doing. Humans just have to show them who's the pack leader. Besides, I knew the risk going in. After all, I'd been bitten before by him doing something similar (eye drops). Could I have been more calm & assertive? Yep.”

I say my husband watches too many episodes of the dog whisperer. Biting is one behavior I don’t think is ever acceptable by dogs, at least not to their loving families. In fact, under the standard set by the several collies that have been part of our family, they would have gone farther than that on biting rules. For them, biting was never an option, save an attack on one of their family members.

Anyway, the latest is Schatzie now has idiopathic vertigo or doggy dizziness for some unknown reason.

Having four legs should be some advantage. Instead, he looks like a drunken sailor times two. When he tries to go forward and to the left, his back end lists to the right. Lots of falling, picking up, and spitting up from the associated nausea. The vet says he may get over this in a few days, learn to compensate, or this may be the end.

I don’t really know what to think. Or what to hope for.  Except I hope my husband’s bite doesn’t get infected. And I hope Schatzie stops acting like a drunken sailor and starts to “shape up or ship out.” That’s not an Alabama expression as far as I know but something my Mom use to say when as kids my brother and I weren’t doing what she expected. I just wish she were here to deal with her old dog and tell us what she would have done.

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