It was a bad mistake, and a nightmare

When Roo cut the back of her ankle the other day — on what I didn’t even know was called the hock until the vet said so — at first I didn’t think much of it. The reason was that, even though it bled a lot at first, the cut appeared not even to be as wide as my thumbnail. It was easy to get the bleeding to stop, and I snipped the fur away from the cut and cleaned it out and put a bandage on. 

The next day, though, the cut was three times as long and incredibly deep. I really don’t understand how this happened. I missed it somehow. Or the skin was only scored by whatever cut her and it didn’t separate until it swelled up. I showed the picture of the original cut to a vet today and she said that could have been it. 

But either way, by then the cut was too old to be stitched. There had been some talk of supergluing it, but as soon as I began to try that, I could see that I couldn’t do it right. You have to get the sides of the wound to pinch together and only get the glue on undamaged skin, and it was too tight. My buddy Jim, who is a doctor, warned me that sealing any infection in was a danger. I didn’t risk it. I left it alone.

Anyway, it was a bad mistake not realizing the severity of the cut when it happened. I won’t make the mistake again. I don’t know how I made it in the first place. It looked deep, but it seemed so little. I feel godawful about it, because today the vet who looked at it said it would take at least a couple of weeks to heal. The wound is clean and not showing any signs of infection, but a stitch would have been better. There’s no sticking it now without knocking her out and trimming away some of the flesh. When it happened, it just didn’t look like it needed it. I chalked it up as another one of the cuts and scrapes Roo gets all the time. And, other than feeling bad from the antibiotics, the cut isn’t bothering Roo at all. She doesn’t favor the leg at all or act like there’s any kind of movement she doesn’t want to make. She wants to be let off the leash and chase chipmunks. She’s not going to be able to do any of that for quite a while. A lot longer — twice as long, probably — than it would have been if I hadn’t messed up. The Keflex she was prescribed made her feel terrible, so she’s being switched to another. That one turned out to be out of stock in the entire region and won’t show up until tomorrow. The vet said she would have to stay on that one for at least two weeks.

I almost never dream, but last night I had one that dragged on for what seemed like hours. It probably came from stressing over Roo’s cut and everything on top of everything else going on, none of any good. You know how it is when you have to give a dog medicine that makes them feel bad and keep them from doing the stuff the were put on Earth to do. You can imagine how much worse you feel when you make a mistake that makes it worse.

In the dream I was at the edge of a wide boulevard somewhere. I don’t know where, but if I had to say, the only pace it looked like was Ahmedabad, India. In the real Ahmedabad there are hundreds of thousands of people and buses and rickshaws and scooters and pushcarts and dogs and cows and trucks and a crush of people maneuvering through piles of garbage. The traffic system there is based on ignoring the lights, for the most part, and just making sure that oncoming drivers observe that you never look in their direction so that if you don’t stop it’ll be your fault. It’s a terrible place, with more dog murderers concentrated in one place than I’ve ever seen anywhere, which is saying something. But, in the street in the dream, there were only a few people in sight because everyone was taking cover from sniper fire. A few people who had already been shot or who were pretending to have been so the sniper wouldn’t target them were scattered on the street. Every once in a while one of them would get up and make a run for cover, but the sniper usually got them and they fell.

Roo was in the middle of the street, sniffing around casually. I don’t know what she was interested in. Knowing Roo, it was probably some sort of mouse, but she was chasing anyone, just following her nose and meandering slowly. Normally gunfire would make her bolt, but this time she didn’t care about it at all.

I was pinned down behind a concrete column and kept yelling at her to come. She ignored me, as she often does when she is hunting. She just stood there, an open target in the middle of the street. 

I was going to have to break cover to go get her. I ran out from the behind the concrete and ran to her. A few bullets came whining down and threw divots out of the asphalt.

I got to her and said, “Come on, Roo, come with me!”

She looked up at me as if to say, “Oh, it’s just you,” and got back to sniffing the street.

“Damn it, Roo, we have to go,” I said. I clipped her leash to her collar and began to head back to cover, but she lay down to let me know she wasn’t going anywhere. .

The gunfire picked up and bullets started landing closer to us as the gunman zeroed in.

“Rooki, move it!” I said, but she put her head down between her paws. She wasn’t frightened. There was just something else she wanted to do.

The gunfire came closer. I woke up before it hit us. Every time I managed to doze off again, the dream started again. I was back behind the concrete and Roo was out on the street and the shots were coming down. 

Finally I had it and got up. I had been in bed for maybe three hours. It was about seven. Roo slept for another three hours. When she got up, she put out all the signs of looking forward to going to the park and running around. She stretches and yawns in a particular way, wags a lot and pops me with her nose a few times.

I walked her. She kept stopping to look back at me to remind me to let her off the leash. Every time I reminded her about her cut, she stopped asking for a minute, but then she’d see a squirrel or a chipmunk and ask again. I felt like a heel. It was a hot day, and there’s a cool stream there. Keeping her out of that wasn’t much fun, either.

That’s where it all stands.

We’re up in Maine and going to have to leave soon, anyway. People are starting to light their fires, and I have some kind of allergy to the woodsmoke. It gives me a headache that lasts for days and I can never seem to get the smell of burning out my nostrils. I constantly go outside to check that nothing hasn't aught on fire. And what with Roo's wound, maybe this is the time to hit the road.

I'm not looking forward to it. At this point, it's going to be a little too much like homelessness, though once Roo gets back on her feet, she will again be living the life of a millionaire.