Wearing a Cone. . . and other dog problems with humans


Thank you to everyone who sent kind messages about Kia, following her operation for a twisted stomach. Things are progressing mostly well, though we did have a set-back last week. I will tell you about it from Kia’s point of view:

It was about a week after the operation, and things were getting better. Anne had stopped forcing pills down my throat after every meal, and seemed to have got the hang of providing decent food. I was aware she was still smuggling my normal kibble into the bowl, but she was managing to disguise the taste pretty well with a variety of meats and fish, so I had decided to eat it. This seemed to please her, which was nice.

The only really annoying thing was my wound, which stung like crazy. I was licking it regularly to keep it clean, and had managed to scrape off some of the nasty wiry stuff they had sewn into me. I did this at night, because the first time I started to give it a really decent lick, Anne saw me, and made all sorts of worried noises, and used that ‘don’t mess with me’ bossy voice which I really do not like at all. Better to clean it at night, when she was safely out of the room. But then one morning, I heard them say they were taking me back to the vet, and that’s when things started to go badly wrong.

Now, I was not particularly worried about meeting the vet again. True, one had stuck needles into me, which was pretty horrid. But there was also a very nice girl, who fed me pieces of fish and took me out for short walks, so I was hoping we were going to see her and not the nasty one.

There was bit of a kafuffle at the vets, because they were all talking about a virus, and only one human was allowed in at a time, so Anne went to sit back in the car, and the husband took me in to see the vet.

I was unlucky; we saw the nasty vet.

This time she made the husband hold me, while she fiddled around with the wound. She was removing the rest of the wiry stuff, and I figured she’d be glad that I had made a start already, but I could tell from their voices that they weren’t very happy. Afterwards I was put in the car with Anne, who seemed upset and kept stroking my neck, but I didn’t know what all the fuss was about. We drove home.

After supper, Anne gave me more pills. They were pink this time, and tasted awful. I have become quite good at holding them in my mouth for a really long time, but she seems to have sussed this, and holds my mouth closed until I swallow. I am trying to think of a new tactic. However, the pills weren’t the main problem. What came next was much, much worse.

There I was, waiting for my praise for having finally swallowed the awful pink pills, when the husband arrived with this weird plastic cone and put it round my neck.

It was such a shock, I can’t tell you how awful it was. The collar came right up over my ears, so all the sounds of the house were distorted, and Anne’s voice seemed very far away. When I looked sideways, all I could see was fuzzy images through plastic. How was I going to keep the family safe if I didn’t have clear all-round vision? I just sat there, not moving, waiting for them to take the stupid thing off again.

But they didn’t. They went upstairs, to the upper room attached to the kitchen, and started to watch the news, saying they would check in a few minutes to see if I was used to it. ‘Used to it?’ That was never going to happen. They had clearly made some mistake, or left this thing on me as some sort of test. I would do my best to remove it.

I spent ages trying to remove it. The outside was slippery, so using a paw to force it off didn’t work. I tried jamming it between a chair and the wall, and moving backwards to scrape it off. That didn’t work either, it simply made the edge dig into my neck. I attempted to roll, but that hurt my wound so I stopped that pretty fast. Knocking it against walls, rubbing it on chairs, hooking it under my water bowl—nothing worked. The thing was stuck fast.

This was clearly a mistake, so I decided to go upstairs and find Anne, so she could see that she needed to remove it. The stairs were difficult. At each step, the collar caught on the step above, so I staggered, nearly fell, got my balance, attempted the next step. . I could hear voices above me, the television announcing that some people should stay inside, Anne and the husband speaking in tense voices about shops being empty. I tried another stair, the cone caught on the step, I staggered, regained my balance, took another step. Half way up, I realised Anne had heard me, and was coming to meet me. She made a little gasp, and rushed down to where I was, then steadied me, and together we continued up the stairs.

There was a discussion at the top. Apparently, I was not supposed to climb stairs yet, and they were unkeen for me to walk down again. The husband said he would carry me. This never works very well, and I tried to wriggle away, but he held me fast, Anne walked in front, we slowly descended.

At the bottom of the stairs, back in the kitchen, I waited for Anne to remove the collar. She didn’t. It began to occur to me that maybe, for some terrible reason, the ghastly device was here to stay. Did they not realise it made hearing difficult, it limited my vision and even running was affected? How could this be? A wave of genuine terror washed over me, my legs began to tremble, my sides shook, my teeth chattered in my mouth.

Anne put her arms round me, holding me as close as she could around the sides of the horrible collar. I felt her warmth, and the trembling subsided. I heard her praying for me. She has done this a lot recently, asking God to make me better, to let me have a bit longer, to not be frightened—it wasn’t working, I was frightened. Maybe God would explain that she needed to take off the collar. But she didn’t. She put her head inside the collar, right next to my cheek, so I could smell her skin, feel the damp of her tears on my own face. She held me for ages, her voice low and soft. There was something calming about that voice, and I began to relax, and lay down.

At one point, a long time later, Anne started to leave. I wasn’t having that. If she couldn’t take off the collar, she would have to stay until someone came who could. I jumped up, and started to follow her, the collar bashing into her calves as she walked towards the door. She turned round and came back, collected her coat from the cupboard, and I thought perhaps she was going out for a walk—but she wasn’t. She used the coat to make a sort of bed next to me, settled me down again. I lay down, feeling her slippers against my back. I slept.

When I woke in the morning, Anne’s slippers were still against my back, but her feet were gone. The collar was still in place. I was no longer frightened, but I was quite determined that it needed to be removed.

***

A few days later, and things have settled down. They have still not removed the collar, but I am beginning to get better at coping with it. Drinking was difficult, as the cone kept bashing the wall behind my bowl, but eventually Anne noticed the problem and my water bowl is now in the middle of the floor. The husband steps in it regularly.

There was also a problem with the grumpy old cat who lives in the utility room. The first morning, when I went to give her her usual morning kiss on her head, I forgot about the collar. I licked her head, raised my head to walk away, and the collar caught her neck and nearly took her head off! Whenever she sees me now she runs and jumps into her box. But I figure it’s just payback for all those scratches I got when I was a puppy.

I am managing to hear; I simply have to turn my head to face in the direction I am listening. Eating is fine, as long as Anne remembers to give me the correct size bowl, as some are too wide to fit within the rim of the collar. I have learnt to approach at the correct angle, so the cone fits over the bowl and I can eat normally. I do sometimes forget to allow for my extra size, and bash into furniture, getting momentarily stuck. But it’s not scary any more, because I know I can reverse, adjust my angle, try again. Anne does complain that I walk too close, and I regularly bash her calves. But I do this in the hope that she will realise the problem and remove the cone. It is taking her a frustratingly long time.

The problem with the pink pills continues. I have tried several strategies, and my best one was to shoot them quickly into my cheek, where they could remain the entire time Anne held my mouth closed, and then I could spit them out in the corner later, when she wasn’t looking. But she managed to notice this, and now clamps my mouth shut way too fast, so the pills remain on my tongue. Then she places delicious smelling food near my nose, so my mouth waters, and I can’t help but swallow. I am trying to think of something new.

There is an added procedure now, when twice a day my wound is washed. I am assuming they now are attempting to do what I was doing before all this malarkey with the cone started. Anne holds me still and speaks in that low comforting voice, while the husband baths my wound with something that smells sharp and astringent. I can tell from their voices that they’re still worried, but occasionally they reassure each other, saying it’s not getting worse, or it looks a little better today, so they seem satisfied with the activity. I hope they’ll get bored with it soon and we can all get back to how things used to be. Another annoyance is that Anne insists on washing my bedding every day, muttering things about keeping the wound clean. It means my blanket doesn’t smell of me anymore, it smells of detergent. I am unable to remedy this by rubbing into nice smells in the garden, as Anne comes out with me each time and calls me away from anything dirty.

But I don’t like to complain too much, and I am definitely feeling better. Today I noticed the sheep next door had lambed, and I started to go and investigate. Anne called me back, before I could squeeze through the bush and check them all properly, but it’s now on my ‘to-do’ list. As soon as the humans realise this stupid cone is stuck and remove it, we can start to get back to normal. Let’s hope it won’t be much longer.

***

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget, my Invisible Jane story continues every Tuesday and Thursday, my blogs are posted every Monday.

Stay safe, and have a good week.

Love, Anne x

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