This is an old story and I probably should have shared it earlier, but.. I didn’t. And I will now because the object of this story has been alternating between pawing at me, nudging me, trying to stand on me, and wedging her horrible claws into the delicate spaces between my toes.
Josie must hate my feet, as much as she steps on them. Of course, she leaves big red welts from her claws. I am not allowed to clip her claws.
As is the done thing with puppies, when Josie turned about six months old I had her spayed. I have handled plenty of spays before, and other than the awkward silence and “well, ONE of us has to rub the ointment into the incision on his THERE” with the Lab-Chihuahua mix, no sterilization has ever gone awry.
But Josie is always special.
I brought her in for the surgery bright and early; as a precaution with anaesthesia I’d kept her NPO since her dinner the evening previous.
Nil per os. Nothing by mouth.
So in we went, Josie and I, and I conspired with the techs. “Can you clip her nails while she’s under?” I asked. Because that’s the only time anybody can do it.
Josie will not be having with people removing her attack talons. She uses them to color on me. I look better in red, apparently.
I left the place content that I would come back to a muzzy stoned dog with an incision in her belly and wonderfully short claws. That afternoon I did things, I can’t remember what. Something with the car, maybe? It wasn’t important.
When I came back to retrieve my pup, I brought my camera because everybody wanted to see Stoned Josie. Here you go.
Yep. She’s aces at peeing on the floor — or was, at the time. As adorable as she was I like her better large and housebroken.
We toddled carefully through what I suddenly realized was a very large pet store, me leading her encouragingly and Josie weaving like the cutest littlest town drunk. People seeing this smiled and laughed. To prove how out of it she was, Josie did not demand attention from any part of her rightful audience.
We made it out of the store, when Josie had a problem. She’d completely forgotten everything about her entire life. She had no idea who she was, where she was, who I was, what was going on, what we were doing, and how her body was assembled.
Once we got home I gave up and carried her inside, where she slept off the anaesthetics and awoke herself once more: spring-loaded and determined to undo everything I create.
Two days later I brought her back because her incision had become inflamed. We went home armed with antibiotics and dire instructions for me to Keep Her Out Of It. I was baffled, because she’d been kept properly coned the entire time — if I’d managed to take the damned thing off I’d never get it back ON — and it took some careful observation before I figured out the trouble.
Josie was trying to remove her stitches by scratching with her hind feet. That should be anatomically impossible, but — this is Josie. Impossible is her bag.
Thus it was that to keep the incision fully protected from Josie’s blunted but still fearsome talons, I rigged up a wrap made of a loose ace bandage and a maxi-pad, cut in half, to cover the incision and prevent it from injury.
Imagine it, one steamy Florida morning: late summer, humid as dog’s breath. The butterflies and lizards lie quiet in the lianas, waiting for the heat to strengthen. Josie and I slip out into the front yard, where the stairs are smaller and easier for her. I am in my pajamas and my hair probably resembles a discarded Harryhausen sketch of Medusa. My dog has a cone on her head, a leash around her neck, and an ace bandage around her surprisingly tiny waist, holding what is obviously half a maxi-pad.
Down the street walk two people, out to enjoy the morning with their two dogs. All four look wonderful. The people are well-dressed, coiffed, put together. The dogs, a pair of Pits, have gleaming coats over wonderfully thick muscle, and walk beautifully on leash.
I see them.
They see me.
“Oh god,” I say.
They laugh, but gently. “Oh, we’ve been there.”