Friday, July 22, 2011

Snakebites and Skunks

From now on, when I wallow in self-pity because I'm having a bad day, or bad week, or things are just not going my way, I'll remind myself of what happened to Moe, my beautiful white Boxer. In the space of one week, he got sprayed by a skunk - in the face, mind you, and bitten by a snake - either Copperhead or Rattlesnake, the vet wasn't sure which - five times. Yes, I said 5 times. Twice on the face; twice on the chest; and once on his right front paw.

Now this is a dog who had already suffered through three days of baths. We had scrubbed him with every available "skunk neturalizing" remedy we could find. And since he was sprayed in the face, his jowls had been repeatedly rubbed and scrubbed until I swear they hung at least three inches lower than before. The smell had faded enough so we could stand to have him in the room, but the stench was far from being gone. Moe was quite cavalier about the whole experience, even happy to share the smell with our Jack Russell terrier who is his bestest friend. He had wallowed his face over Captain Jack until his back, too, smelled like skunk.

Then we let the dogs out for one last run before bedtime. (There are four dogs total. Add- Murphy, a Cairn terrier; Molly, a Westie to the group.) No more than 3 minutes later, they came to the door without Moe. We called and called, and finally he limped to the door holding up a front leg. His paw was swelling rapidly and the fang marks were still visible. We noticed he was drooling profusely, but at the time it never occurred to us he was also bitten on the face. We just thought the drool was from the shock of the bite. It wasn't until the next morning that a sack of fluid hung from his chest where he had been bitten.

A frantic call to the vet resulted in the advice to give him 50 milligrams of Benedryl; repeat it in two hours; and bring him in in the morning. This we did, but first we sat down to watch over him all night long. The next morning, his paw had swollen to twice its size with the swelling creeping up his leg, and a sack hung from his chest. At the vet, she immediately noticed the remnants of the skunk smell and then pointed out that he had not just been struck on the paw, but repeatedly on the face and chest. She also said a snake bite to a dog is horribly painful and compared it to a gunshot to a human.

Moe, she said, had had a hell of a week!

A I write this, Moe lays at my feet with one of his squeaky toys, rolling on his back with it clasped between his front paws, like nothing happened to the right one. Other than the chore of getting an antibiotic pill down him twice a day, the effects of the snakebite are gone. But not the skunk! Oh, no, he still carries a trail of musk behind him wherever he goes.

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