The dog walked into the consult room, head tipped to one side, with a very uncomfortable look in her eye. She flapped her head furiously, and whimpered a little…
“G’day doc,” The man said to me, with a smile. “She’s got something wrong with her ear, I reckon!”
“Looks like it, ” I agreed. “Let’s get her up on the table and see if she’ll let me have a look down inside…”
We got her up on the table- a lovely little border collie in crisp and clean black and white. I let her sniff my hand, and got to know her a little bit. As soon as I moved a hand towards her ear, however, her lip raised ever so slightly in a warning snarl.
“Is she likely to bite?” I asked him.
“Oh she might,” he explained. “She’s nipped one or two vets before now, that’s for sure.”
I gave him a look, which bounced off like water from a ducks back. I sighed to myself, utterly perplexed that people would bring a dog in that had bitten other vets, and not warn me! I rummaged in the drawer, and pulled out a muzzle.
“Could you pop this on her for me, please?” I asked him.
“Oh, I don’t like to put a muzzle on my dogs,” he told me. “They don’t like it!”
“Well,” I said, patiently, teeth somewhat gritted together, “I don’t much like getting bitten, and she’s warned me she will do so if I look at her ear. The only way I can have a look is to muzzle her, I’m afraid.”
He grumbled a bit, but did slip the muzzle on- then we got it fitted firmly, and I got him to hold her tight while I tried to have a look. I could have a gentle feel around the ear- whenever I touched it she whimpered and struggled. I lifted up the ear flap, and tried to look down the ear canal with an otoscope, but there was NO way she would allow me to do that while conscious.
“I think she has a grass seed down there,” I explained. “It’s simply too painful for me to try and fish it out with her awake, so I’ll have to keep her in for a few hours, give her a quick anaesthetic, and get it out while she’s out to it.”
“Ok then, doc,” he said. “I’ll drop in later this arvo and pick her up then?”
“Yes, that would be fine.”
I prepared a sedation and slipped the injection under her skin while she still had the muzzle on, and then took her out and popped her in a cage out the back. I saw the few last consults, cleared the waiting room, and then drew up some anaesthetic. I got the nurse on duty to help me, and we gently encouraged her to come out of the cage. She was saggy eyed and sleepy, deeply relaxed, and we had no trouble in getting her out of the cage, and holding her for the intravenous injection of anaesthetic solution. She relaxed into a black and white puddle, and I quickly got the otoscope and looked right down into her ear canal. Bingo! I could see the ends of a grass seed, and I then reached down into the ear with the special little forceps. I could see the shiny silver jaws grasp the end of the grass seed, and then I gently pulled it out. It was long and sharp, bloody and infected. I fished around several more times, pulling out three grass seeds in all, and making quite sure there was nothing left in there. The ear was inflamed, bloody, and infected.
We let her wake up, and put some ear drops in. Before long she was sitting up, ear still held down a little bit, but looking so, so much happier. A couple of hours later she bounced out of the door with her dad… And I wrote “THIS DOG BITES” in large red letter on her record card, just to warn the next vet who saw her!