Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday February 2nd 2020
In the end I shut Isis, whose raucous outbursts are averaging one every eight to ten minutes, in the kitchen. The back room adjoins my neighbours’ house. Isis is already beside herself, and I am well on the way: we don’t need to drive another two humans out of their minds.
In the kitchen, she stops growling and barking, and concentrates on scraping the paint from the kitchen door. This isn’t a soothing sound, but at least it’s not loud enough to disturb the neighbours.
She does this throughout the night. I go down every hour or so to see if it is possible to allow her back onto the day bed, but each time she resumes the growling and barking and I have to return her to the kitchen.
Needless to say, neither of us have any sleep.
Next morning, I stagger out with her to the car. She growls her way to the park but is fine when let off her lead.
She growls her way back home and bites her foot again.
As it’s necessary to supervise her constantly in order to preempt any self harming. It’s impossible to do anything else.
It’s horrible to see my little dog in such distress. Always the optimist, I wonder if there’s something wrong with her brain. She was born blind and deaf: could she have a degenerative condition? She might have a brain tumour.
I phone the vets’ but there’s no appointment available until the next morning.
I ask for some advice. The vet suggests that if I can get to a pet shop, it would be a good idea to buy a cone collar.
I have one upstairs. Why on earth hadn’t I thought of that? It’s so obvious.
I gallop upstairs and dig through the animal store like a cartoon character, scattering various ill assorted items behind me. One of these is the Thundershirt I bought for Ellie, my previous dog, to soothe her on firework night.
Isis growls as I wrap the Thundershirt around her, but once it’s on she wags her tail for the first time in twenty four hours. I add the cone collar.
There is definitely an improvement. She seems less distressed and is definitely calmer. The growling and barking episodes don’t stop, but they become less frequent. By one in the morning, she’s only grrrrrrr-yaffing about once every hour or so, and the grrrrrrr-yaffing is much less explosive, muffled even.
When I creep off to bed, I leave her, still Thundershirted and plastic collared, in the back room.
Ever alert to the noise level downstairs, I doze intermittently.
It’s obscenely early when we leave home for our eight-thirty appointment on Tuesday morning. After a growl and a bark as we drive off, Isis seems to settle, and the rest of the journey is blissfully quiet.
The vet checks Hairy One very carefully, inch by inch: she snips off a hair sample and tests it for fleas; empties the very small amount of fluid which has accumulated in one of Hairy’s anal glands in the ten days since she had them emptied; checks her ears and eyes.
Then I hold Hairy’s head while the vet attempts to examine the damaged foot. Isis does not make the task any easier. She snatches her foot from the vet’s hand like a demented ballerina, making it impossible to investigate the beds of the pads.
The vet ascertains that the pads are sore and very swollen, but it’s impossible to know what prompted Hairy’s attacks. If the self-harming continues, it might be necessary to sedate her so that the foot can be examined more thoroughly.
Something strange happened to her in Highbury on Sunday. Some creature could have stung or bitten her. There could be a thorn deep between her pads. But she didn’t squeak or flinch. She didn’t limp as she walked away. She didn’t freak out. There was no sign of blood.
It’s a mystery. The vet prescribes Metacam for the inflammation, antibiotics to prevent the wounds from becoming infected, and a top-up supply of Prinovox in case invisible mites are irritating her skin.
We drive to the park and return home without incident. Isis has her first dose of Metacam and her antibiotics with her breakfast, then we both fall asleep on the day bed for six hours.
The growling and barking become less frequent, and by Wednesday Isis is well enough to be left on her own for several hours.
On Thursday and Friday she only wears the plastic collar while she’s in the car. On Saturday I take a risk and drive her to the park without the collar. Nothing untoward happens.
She seems fine now. I still put the collar in the car when we leave the house, and keep it nearby when we’re at home.
Just in case.
She’ll finish her course of Metacam and antibiotics on Tuesday, the same day as her follow-up vet’s appointment.
She seems to have recovered, but I keep a close eye on her, and intervene as soon as she chases her tail, or shows any sign of irritation.
*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk