Monday, November 23, 2009

A Tale and a Bottle

I published this story a long time ago, and it was pretty popular.  Last I heard, Jake is still alive and well and living in Nanaimo.

The Case for Beer Cans and Pet Medical Insurance

 There are 13 dogs and one dog-minded human on this logging road.  The blue sky is well received by dogs and human after last week's rain.  The creekbeds that were dry two weeks ago now gurgle and sparkle and laughingly offer their cool fresh water to the dogs.  An iridescent black raven croaks from one of the maple trees in a nearby stand.  Ravens are smart.  Only hang out where they find meals of carrion or garbage.  See one by the roadside and look for more.  More would certainly mean a deer carcass or some other dead thing that the dogs will want to roll on or eat.  But today there is only a singular raven, croaking his wisdom to the golden leaves between the blue sky and the side of the deactivated logging road.

 In addition to two of my own dogs, Esta and Atticus, there are 11 youngsters, around a year or two old.   Yellow, chocolate, and black Labradors, a great, white Kuvasz with an uncanny mind, a rambunctious young grey and white husky, and a gentle, sweet natured Rottweiler girl  are all running back and forth at top speeds on the road.  A diplomatic and gentlemanly tuxedo coloured Shih Tzu toddles behind me on a leash, leisurely taking sniffs at flowers and making sure he pees in the right places and none of the wrong ones. 

Watch out!   Watch out!  Three hundred pounds of cavorting dogs flying full tilt- a reckless and joyous bunch tumbling up the logging road at top speed coming up fast from behind.   A slight move leftward, a deft sweep of right arm making full eye contact with shih tzu.  Upended human or clothes-lining of leashed dogs is once again avoided via graceful ballet.

After a while hiking a few kilometres uphill, the yellow lab moves in behind me, and walks placidly beside big, brindle coloured Atticus. The pack gradually depletes it's energy.  They are thirsty and need to cool off.  The fresh cool water in a roadside stream beckons.  Black Jake is the first to wade in.
A shrill yelp pierces the afternoon. No good.  Jake.  What's wrong?  Cut paw, that's what's wrong.  Must be bad to yelp like that.  Jake is out of the water now standing in a pool of blood.  Quick look, two vertical gashes on his right carpus joint. Blood pours. Artery. Arterial bleeding will take Jakes life fast.  Must get to a vet now. Pick up struggling black dog.  Red streams course down. Dogs jump up to get a better view.  I teeter.  Easy does it.  I am talking to Jake and talking to myself too. Jake's Struggling 75 lbs of confusion and muscle is too much and after 100 feet, I tie Jake in a stand of saplings next to the road.   My belt becomes a tourniquet.  My beloved green cotton hippy bag is dismembered to serve as a bandage, and is soaked maroon immediately upon application.   "Run!" "Run!" "Run!" All the dogs have to get back on the bus.  There will be no time for trying to round up strays and load them.  Strays will have to stay. The dogs sense my urgency and race back to the bus, piling in all at once, and each finding a seat.  Except that Kuvasz I mentioned earlier.  The Kuvasz runs back down the road.  I follow him in the bus and soon come upon him gently licking Jake's muzzle, a red pool has formed under both dogs.  I run toward the pair, first aid kit in hand. Gauze, gauze, vet wrap, More gauze, no more vet wrap. Not working anyway.  The nearest vet is 30 minutes away. "Go, go, go!!"

"K-you have to get on now.  We gotta go fast big guy." I say to the Kuvasz, while I load fading Jake into the front seat.  I open the side door for the big white dog and he jumps in because he knows the desperation in my voice is beyond question.  "Stay with us....easy Jake, good're gonna be fine"  I say as I navigate the rough road back to the parkway.   
Phone. Push the right button. "Courtenay Veterinary Clinic, Jen speaking"  My foot pushes the accelerator down hard and the bus roars up to 80kmh.  "Hey Jen, it's Lynne calling from Go Dog Go!  I have 75 lb lab bleeding heavily from radial artery coming in-about 15 minutes. Can you guys be ready?" "We'll be waiting".

Pedal down.  The bus roars up to 110 down the parkway.  If a cop chases let him.  Deal with it then.  I am soaked in Jake's blood now, as is the front area of the bus.  There is an uncharacteristically sombre mood among the dogs.  Everyone is really quiet.  In fifteen minutes we arrive at the vet's and their crew of nurses comes out to help unload Jake. 

Jake was lucky and, with emergency care and round the clock, dedicated and competent medical attention, survived two parallel wounds to his radial artery.   I knew the culprit had to be glass to go so quickly and easily right through Jake's skin and flesh.  Probably the jagged end of a bottle.  As long as it laid in the stream it would be a danger to any passing animals.  So I went back and found it in the stream:   A knife shaped Miller beer bottle neck.  It made me wonder where the logic in selling alcohol in glass bottles lies.  Think about it:  Drunk people and empty glass bottles...