Friday, November 11, 2011

Sam's Mouth and a Lesson Learned

Sam, Sam The Happy Hound. Ever else on the earth that might change, Sam is going to enjoy each meal with as much gusto as he did over ten years ago, when he was very nearly dead of starvation. Food is serious to Sam. Sam isn’t playing when it comes to food. Sam knows something the rest of us have long since forgotten; the source of food is finite and the time you can survive without it is likewise critically short. Those of us who at one point in life or another have gone a couple of days without food know what this feels like on a small scale. Sam has had it hammered into his soul with cruelty and abuse. Sam’s nose in a food bowl is Sam uninterrupted.
So this morning I noticed Sam wasn’t eating his food, and it was a can of the wet stuff mixed in with it, too. I watched him eat and he didn’t seem uninterested as much as he seemed unable. Peg and I put Katie down whenever she developed a tumor in her mouth. The real and cold fear of losing Sam quickly knotting my stomach and I reached for the cell, to call the vet.
But as I watched Sam I realized his mouth wasn’t closing completely. Why? I could need to know before I called the vet.
The idea of sticking my hand in Bert’s mouth is about the same sort of idea that leads people to hold firecrackers to see if they can let go at the last second. Bert isn’t going to be handled like that. Bert will put up a fight, and he is as serious about his personal space as Sam is about food. Bert is old, has some mobility issues and his days are not long on this earth, but if you want to put your hand in Bert’s mouth, oh yeah, he’s going to facilitate that, pretty definitely. Getting your hand back out is another matter. Getting it back un-mangled isn’t one of those fortune cookie things; a reddish brown part husky and part chow will gently disapprove your dental skills. I wouldn’t put my hand in Bert’s mouth unless he was sedated or decapitated.
Lucas is simply too strong. I do not think I could hold him down. He would just get up and walk off. Luke wouldn’t bite but he wouldn’t sit still for it either. He’s faster, stronger, and too massive to be sat on. I have this fear that one day Bert is going to cop an attitude with me and Lucas is going to take him down hard. All the dire predictions of this animal being stunted by the lack of food for the first six months of his life have gone unheeded by Lucas. This is the main battle tank of the household. Breaking into this home with Lucas here is to discover if you look good wearing grey. When he and I tussle I have to make sure whatever is behind me is soft enough to land on, and hard. Luke knows mass equals power when used with speed. At three years old, Luke is coming out of his puppyhood more slowly than the other two did, but he’s turning out to be a damn fine dog.
The closer I looked at Sam’s mouth the more I realized his mouth wasn’t closing all the way and even if he didn’t seem to be in pain, he didn’t act real happy about me holding his head still. I went to the tool box and got the tiny screw driver to use to poke around in Sam’s mouth and see what I could see. Bert’s snout is short, Lucas’ likewise has a rather short muzzle but Sam has a long nose. He has front teeth a kind of space with just a few teeth, and then his back teeth. There was something black wedged in his back teeth as I poked it I realized I was going to have to gold Sam down and take it out with a pair of pliers. Yes, tweezers would have worked very well but I don’t have any. Sam seemed to know I was trying to help but he didn’t like it. I was able to hold his mouth open long enough to grip the black thing and Hoe. Lee. Shit. A thin sliver of a chicken bone slid out of Sam’s mouth. It had wedged in, not penetrated, but it was jamming his mouth open, I thought. I petted him for a while, turned him loose with the other two dogs, and watched. It did occur to me that there might be more than one problem and I was right. Sam’s mouth did not close complete and he was salivating.
Sam knew what it meant when I coaxed him into the bedroom without the other two dogs, but he followed anyway. Sam is compliant. Whatever happened to him when he was a tiny puppy has given him every reason to believe there is one, and only one, human being alive he can trust. Sam loves everyone but Sam trusts me and me alone. I got his mouth open and on the other side was another dark object. I pinned Sam to the floor because he was getting too antsy, but Sam lay there and let me pry his mount open, dig around with the screwdriver until I got something I could grip with the pliers and I pulled.
Whatever was in there was jammed in hard and Sam revolted. He pulled his head back hard, and tried to paw me. I let him pull and I pulled and suddenly out popped this bone that looked like half a drumstick. It had been wedged in Sam’s mouth at an angle, like a bit, and wouldn’t let him close his mouth or eat easily. Unlike any other dog on earth, Sam gave to me and put his head on my leg to be petted after I got the bone out. Then it was time for a snack.
I mixed two raw eggs into Sam’s dry food and he devoured it with a passion. Tail going, ears flat, nom nom nom!

This is why giving your dog chicken bones is an incredibly bad idea.


Take Care,
Mike

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