Sunday, November 8, 2009
Like an orange on a toothpick
The four of us settled into a happy rhythm. Bear seemed to relax as Quincy established his daily route around the neighbourhood and she realized his agenda did not include honing in on belly rubs or snuggle time. Quincy became more and more social as he found his place in our lives. He continued to wander, but he seemed to enjoy our company as well, choosing more often to stay close to home.
Even with his rough-around-the-edges persona, Quincy gave the impression of being a distinguished gentleman at times, more international spy than country bumpkin. Morgan began to address him as Quincible, accompanied by a sharp head nod when they passed each other in the house.
It was that I heard one early Fall morning when Morgan got out of bed and opened the front door. Quincy went out just before sunrise and returned for breakfast. Except, something wasn’t quite right and Morgan said I needed to get up and look at him myself.
I stumbled out from under the covers and focused my bleary eyes on Quincy’s black shape where he lay just outside the bedroom door. His head was enormous.
I stared at him panting on the floor his eyes trained on the far wall as though he knew something was wrong but was casually trying to ignore it. The word that popped into my head was frankendog when I saw his giant forehead stretching up way above where it should have ended.
At first we thought something had stung him and an allergic reaction had caused this head to swell to twice its normal size. I grabbed a bowl of water from the kitchen, placed it in front of him and watched as his pink tongue worked quickly to lap it up. He could swallow and breathe okay.
We called the vet and were about to follow their direction to give him an antihistamine and see if the swelling went down when I noticed the white fur on his chest had suddenly become pink and wet. A mucusy-pink puddle began to form on the floor just in front of him and closer inspection revealed a hole in his neck.
Another call to the vet and we were loading Quincy into the car. It seemed he had an abscess that just burst. On the plus side, his head had returned to normal size.
At the vet’s office they shaved the hair around the torn skin, leaving it bright pink and raw. We were given an iodine solution to use, with instructions to keep Quincy inside and the wound open with a warm cloth so it could drain and whatever had caused it, whatever was stuck in there, would be flushed out.
We took our leaky dog home and spent the next few days wetting down a determined scab and wiping up puddles around the house. We tried wrapping a bandana loosely around his neck to help keep the area clean and also to absorb some of the mess, but Quincy always managed to pull it off.
Sometimes the tear healed a bit too much and we had to really work at the wound to open it up again while Quincy sat still as a statue, pointedly not looking at us as if trying to imagine none of it was happening.
One afternoon I kneeled beside him with my hands on his shoulders, closely scrutinizing his sealed-up wound and the swollen skin around it. Morgan stood on the other side wielding a damp cloth. It wasn’t working, the wound stayed stubbornly closed. Eventually Morgan resorted to poking and prodding the area with his fingers to try and break through the scab.
I’m not sure if I was adjusting my position or my attention wandered for a minute, but I just moved my face to the side, away from the wound, when it erupted and a jet of pus shot from his neck across the livingroom. We both jumped back from Quincy, as though he had become suddenly too hot to touch, and we watched this perfect stream of gunk fly about six feet through the air then splatter against the TV screen, drip down the storage bin it sat on, and pool on the floor. Quincy didn’t move a muscle. Morgan and I stared at each other and shared a slightly nervous laugh and all I could think was I almost got that in the face.
Well, that must feel better, Morgan said and clapped Quincy on the shoulder.
If it did, it didn’t last long. Whatever was stuck in his skin causing the irritation, it wasn’t coming out. We flushed the area, kept it clean, allowed it to drain, but it kept swelling up. It didn’t seem to be getting any better.
The vet agreed, surmising that whatever was in there had maybe pierced through his skin from the inside, like if he got a stick stuck in his throat. She explained the only way to clean it out properly would be to go in and get it out.
Quincy needed surgery.