(Please be advised that this post contains an excessive number of exclamation points. And a couple photos that some folks might consider gross. Please plan accordingly.)
The dark brown dots on the side of the fridge aren’t chocolate. Or paint. They’re blood. Dried blood.
Don’t worry. This tale has a happy ending, slightly shorter than it was a week ago, but happy and wagging nonetheless.
On Wednesday night, my mom (“Grandma”) and I plowed through a hellacious pile of mostly-junk jewelry for Steeple People Thrift Store, sorting and pricing. We pulled out the dollar items and tossed freebies into a bag. As we wrapped up the evening of work, the boys (one adult human, one child human, two canines) came in from the back yard.
A bloodcurdling yelp!
I rush into the kitchen, eyes wide.
Me: What happened?!!!
Ace: Chester got his tail caught in the door.
Chester weaves around my legs, tail wagging. I feel a fine spray of liquid.
Me: He’s peeing!!!! NO – HE’S BLEEDING!!!!!!!! His leg is cut!!!! It’s his tail!!!!!
Chester’s tail wags furiously, a frenetic windshield washer, spraying an arc of blood back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I grab the tail.
Me: Get a towel!
I hold pressure on his tail, trying to keep all fifty pounds of adolescent labrador retriever under control.
Ace: Take him outside!
Me: I’m trying!
Ace grabs his collar and hauls Chester outside. I follow the zigzag pattern of blood out the door. Chet and I sit on the cement cuddling. He thinks we’re cuddling. I’m actually trying to get the arterial blood flow to stop. I check the tail and once again note pulsating blood.
I find the end of Chester’s tail on the doormat. A neat cone of tissue with attached blond labrador bristles.
Me: “YOU CUT OFF CHESTER’S TAIL!!!!!”
Ace: (hurt) “Chester’s tail got cut off by the door.”
I pack the tail on ice, send Ace and The Big E to bed, and Grandma and I speed off into the night. Chester paints the inside of his car kennel with the end of his tail.
We arrive at the University of Minnesota emergency vet clinic around 10:15 pm. The janitor is just finishing mopping the entry. We walk to the check-in desk, dripping all over the clean floors.
They take Chester back to a room. We are told to wait in the lobby. I dump cocoa into a cup (on July second) and burn my tongue. I hear Chester yelping from way across the room, down a couple halls, behind closed doors.
Me: I can hear my baby crying. Is he okay?
Receptionist: I’ll go check.
Receptionist: He’s fine. Just mad that everyone’s ignoring him.
Me: Can I go wait with him?
Receptionist: Sure. We’ll put you in Room A.
Me: (in Room A, waiting for ten minutes)
Me: (once again at reception desk) Am I supposed to go find him?
Receptionist: They’ll bring him to you.
They eventually do. I want him to run to me – Mama! But he runs to everyone indiscriminately like a good labrador retriever. He whines at the door of Room A. I worry that his bladder might explode. (Chester only likes to pee in our yard.)
The vet says there is exposed bone. She wants to amputate a tiny bit of bone and then draw the tissue up, suturing the end of the tail back together. No, it can’t wait for his usual vet. No, she can’t reattach the severed tissue. Yes, she can do the surgery tonight. Can I pick him up in a couple hours?
Sure. Grandma and I had placed bets about the cost of the evening adventure on the way over. I plunk down my credit card for the required 75% of the estimated cost, twice my original bet.
The vet calls me at 1 am. The procedure went fine. He’s a little crazy at the moment but I can come pick him up. I hear him, crazy, in the background. She explains how they use Narcan to reverse the sedative and it makes doggies a little crazy. I think this sounds a little cruel. Why not let his narcotic haze wear off naturally? Then I remember his size – how the hell would I get a narc’d out lab puppy in my car? Wheel barrow?
Chester looks absolutely fine. He wags his perky ace-wrap pressure bandage. I stuff him, his prescriptions, and new Cone of Shame in the car.
On Saturday, The Big E and I walk Chester over to the neighbors’. Mia and Chester are distant cousins, produced by the same kennel. Ironically, Mia’s tail got amputated by a door several years ago. A Kennel Curse? We walk over to commiserate but Mia isn’t home.
I am far more upset by the episode than Chester. I dutifully feed him Augmentin and Ultram in yogurt or peanut butter. Perhaps the Ultram was meant for the owner. Turns out, both drugs were intended for “Fritz”, as I learned from a moderately frantic phone message from the vet. She thinks the doses are fine but could I call? And BTW, they forgot to charge me for the meds. They’d like to charge me for the meds.
I haven’t called back. I checked the doses online (certainly the most reliable source of medical information…) and made sure that Ultram and Augmentin appeared to be appropriate drugs for the situation.
Chester is healing. He enjoys bashing his Cone of Shame into the backs of my legs. He dumped his heavy Bennington earthenware crock of water three times, hooking and flipping it with his cone, before his idiot owners switched it out for a flatter dish.
The only reminders of the incident are the tiny brown dots. A spray of blood on the side of the house. A bloody footprint not yet washed away by the rain. Black dots on the fridge photo faces, like the syphilitic lesions in Renaissance paintings.
Eventually I’ll clean it all up. And Chester will get his sutures out. Maybe we’ll let him shred the Cone of Shame. His fur will grow back and all reminders of the Guillotine Door Episode will fade.
I keep the bit of amputated bone and chunk of tail, pop them in a baggie in the deepfreeze next to the roadkill black squirrel. Grandma thinks the tail would make a perfect fishing lure.