I was greeted by a furious storm of barking at the gate…
“Sit, sit,” their mum said, patiently, treats in hand. After a few moments they both settled down and sat obediently, tails wagging, totally focused on the treats. Then she let me in, and they excitedly jumped all around and on me for a minute before we got them settled down once again. We got settled inside, with both dogs sitting, totally focused on the food to come.
“He’s got a really sore tail,” she said. “And he keeps chewing and chewing at it, I simply can’t stop him. I have to warn you, too, he’s a rescue dog. I’ve done a lot of work with him, but he’s still not very happy about people doing things with him…”
“Ok, I’ll be careful as I look at him then,” I said.
I got down on his level, and made friends with some treats. He let me touch him all over, but as soon as I went near his tail his face tightened up, and when I touched it he gave me a very clear warning, lips lifting a little.
“I reckon he’ll nip me if I go any further,” I said, “and I have to clip all the hair off as well – there’s no way in the world he’s going to allow me to put clippers anywhere near it. He’s got a nasty hotspot on his tail, a staph skin infection. I need to clip all the hair off so it can dry out, and give him some antibiotics as well. They’re really painful things. Are you ok for me to sedate him so I can do all of that?”
“Yes, I wondered how you’d be able to treat him,” she said. “I’m fine for him to be sedated.”
I got her to hold his head very firmly (because the sedative is quite a stingy injection) and after a bit of a tussle and a shower of treats we got it into him. Within minutes his head was nodding, and before long he was flat out. I had already collected everything from the car- clippers, some betadine, swabs, antibiotics, and last, but not least, an elizabethan collar (a big plastic cone) to go over his head and stop him chewing at his tail. I quickly clipped all the hair off the wet, red and angry sore all over the end of his tail, and back at least an inch or two from the sore over healthy skin. Then I gave it a good scrub, put his collar on, and gave him the reversal injection.
“He’ll be up and about in a few minutes,” I explained. “He will probably feel a bit hung over for the rest of the day, and he’s going to absolutely hate that cone on his head!”
“Yes, but I’m sure he would keep chewing his tail without it though!” she said.
“You bet he would,” I replied. “You can take it off under close supervision, but leave it on whenever you can’t give him your full attention. And he’ll need to have the antibiotics twice daily, too.”
By now he was sitting up, a bit wobbly, and absolutely horrified to find this big plastic cone on his head. As I packed up he got to his feet and started to move around.
“Watch out for your shins!” I warned his mum. “They can be a bit deadly with those things on until they work out how big they are…”
I came back a week later to find the tail all nicely healed up, and set him free from the vile bondage of the cone.