In the litany of injury, Jed’s cracked dew claw went nearly unnoticed.
A couple of weeks ago, Jed and I were walking the Pipeline Track off Mountain Road. Jed skidded after his tennis ball and somersaulted into a rock, finishing up with a yelp. He appeared to limp a couple of paces, so I checked his foot.
There was no damage to the pad; when I palpated his paw, he just licked my face; so I investigated between his toes where he likes to store burrs even though they irritate the sensitive skin. There was no evidence of injury. Whatever the problem was, it didn’t stop Jed firing himself down the track after his ball, or impede his lifelong mission to nibble every blade of grass ON THE PLANET.
Afterwards, I was towelling mud off him and he flinched when I rubbed his foreleg. Looking closer, I saw his dew claw had splintered. Apart from slurping at it every now and then, it didn’t seem to bother him much, so I wasn’t concerned. Husband suggested taping up the claw; perhaps we should have done. But I just figured it would, um, grow out.
On New Year’s Day, we were woken by a high-pitched whine. Jed was obviously distressed; he paced around the bedroom, flung himself on the floor, rose again immediately, whined at the door. It was so long after the dew claw incident it never occurred to us that was the problem – until I noticed it sticking out at right angles. Although the claw was still attached, it was sheared right back to the bone; he must have caught it on something (maybe his teeth).
This is the dog who, after leaping off a six foot high sandbank and landing on his head, barely broke stride in his mission to retrieve his tennis ball. However, this time Jed was in a great deal of pain. He couldn’t get comfortable. A couple of times he attempted to lick his dew claw, but it was too tender. He yelped every time an air molecule brushed up against it. We tried to make him sit to assess the damage, but he retreated under the dining room table and refused to come out.
I have no problem with pain and can take it in my stride – so long as it’s not mine. My POINT is, I don’t get precious about my dog barfing, cutting himself, or peeing blood; but I felt sick at the sight of the gruesome angle of Jed’s claw and his obvious distress.
Husband was all for lopping the claw with our cheap, crappy, largely broken pair of dog clippers. In his defence, this is the same man who punched a hole through his lower lip with his tooth and wanted to put a couple of stitches in. Himself. I had to flush the sewing kit down the loo to deter him. If Andrew’s arm fell off, he would no doubt attempt to staple it back on if the hospital was more than 5 minutes drive away. Also assuming he could find the stapler – or fish it out of the U-bend.
All I’m saying is: Husband would not visit any sadism on his dog that he wouldn’t turn on himself and call masochism.
While The Butcher of Waitakere was distracted trying to locate the dog clippers, I called various local vet clinics. I wasn’t expecting much joy, since the entire country was closed from 1-5 January. However, one of the automatic voicemail systems supplied the telephone number of an out of hours clinic at 348 Rosebank Road (09-8207273).
“Well, a broken dew claw is not really considered an emergency,” said the nurse on the phone. “But it is incredibly painful for the animal. The emergency consultation fee is $125.”
“Hey, this website says the vet just rips it out with a pair of pliers,” said Andrew. “I have a pair of pliers downst-”
“No!” I said, grittily.
Of course Husband was just as concerned about his dog as I. In fact, the Swanson clinic was open the following morning, but Andrew opted to bring Jed to the out of hours clinic. But I have a feeling The Butcher of Waitakere is going to stick – at least if I have anything to do with it.
The vet advised putting Jed under general anaesthetic. He said a local involved an injection right by the claw which would be too painful – although I think he was referring to the possibility of Jed chomping on him.
“Did the vet give you an estimate?” asked the nurse. I was so anxious about our puppy I barely even heard the DONG! When I replied in the negative, she scrawled ‘No estimate provided’ across the consent form; evidently, I wouldn’t have noticed even had she beaten me savagely with the warning bell’s clapper.
When we returned to collect him two hours later, despite being groggy, Jed dragged me into the waiting room. I knew he was ok when we thought we might have to ask the vet to surgically remove Jed’s nose from a border collie’s butt.
That was the total of the itemised bill including five different types of drug: sedatives, anaesthetic and painkillers.
But even though I feel totally suckered, whenever I see Jed bounding after a tennis ball I can’t help feeling it was worth it.
I know, I know.
I AM a sucker.