“G’day!” I said, as they took off their ear protection, and turned off the log splitter and chainsaw. I’d pulled up at the little bush shed down from their house, where they were hard at work splitting wood. A tumbled profusion of sliced up logs and split up wood lay in heaps around the place. The motor of the splitter surged and spluttered into silence.
“G’day Dr Ed,” he said, with a smile. “Thanks for coming around to help my dog out. She’s in the back of the car. She went off chasing a wallaby yesterday and tore a bit of a hole in herself. It’s up under her front leg,” he explained what was going on as he walked over to his truck, opened the door, and got her to hop out. “Here, I’ll show you – she’s kept it really clean, but she has been a bit subdued.”
We gently lay her on her side, and I had a look- a beautiful, clean wound. As soon as I touched it, though, she twitched and looked at me.
“I reckon I’ll need to sedate her,” I explained. “Some dogs will let me stitich up small wounds like this without sedation, but it looks like she’s got a low pain tolerance to me?”
“Oh yes, she’s a total woose, yelps at the smallest thing, I’m sure you’ll need to sedate her..”
So I gathered up all the things I needed, and drew up what I thought was a good dose of sedation. Her dad gently held her head while I slipped the needle into her muscle and slowly injected the clear fluid. Unfortunately, she’d not read the instructions properly, and I had to top her up a bit, and even then she was very twitchy and reactive, wanting to nip me in slow motion every time I tried to slip the needle through to pulll the skin back together.
“I’m going to pop a bit of local anaesthetic in,” I explained. She’ll probably feel it a bit, as it stings, but I need to have her numb so I can work on her.”
“Whatever you need to do, doc,” came the reply.
I gently worked around the margins of the wound, injecting local anaesthetic under the skin. The two men watched with interest while I did. I clipped off the hair around the edges, and gently removed a few errant hairs from the wound with a swab. I gave it about 5 minutes, and then could finally stitch up the wound, about 5 cm long, and slightly jagged. I worked from each end, gently tying the knots so there was just enough tension to bring the skin back together. Before long it was nearly as good as new.
“Now it’s time to put on the cone of doom,” I said, with a smile. “She’s just the sort of dog who’d have those stitches out as soon as I’d turned my back!”
They had an old Elizabethan collar, and slipped her collar off to get it ready while I drew up the reversal agent. I injected her with that, and helped him slip the cone over her head, and made sure it was firmly in place.
“What a lovely place to do some veterinary work,” I said, as I stretched, looking around through the tall trees and off down the valley, enjoying the silence of the bush and the cool cloudy day.
“Proper bush vetting eh?” he said with a smile, squatting down and stroking his dogs ears.
Before too long the spark of awareness brightened in her eyes, and finally she got up. She was very put out about the cone, and kept going backwards and trying to paw it off, so I got them to gently lift her onto the back seat of the truck. She was still trying her best to get that damned thing off her head with her paws as I chatted to them about life and our community.
After a barter for a load of firewood (it’s been cold here!) in return for the stitch up, I drove off back home, down along the valley.