The continuing adventures of the most vetted dog in history


Well, it was a pleasant, though brief, spring here in southeast Oklahoma. It only lasted two or three days before the brutal onset of the vicious summer America has to look forward to, but, looking back on it, I seem to remember that it was it was quite nice. Now, with 90 degrees here, people in drenched t-shirts are struggling to hack their way through tall weeds on their old riding mowers, algae is starting to form in the swamps, and, of course, the snakes are everywhere.

I haven’t seen any venomous snakes yet, but the western rat snakes, like the one entering the tree in the photo below, are everywhere, and there are always more of them than their more dangerous relatives. They are the harbingers. You see about 20 of them to every cottonmouth, and about 30 of them for every copperhead. I have yet to see a rattler here, but they are, and according to Dr. Stokes, their bite is the worst of them all. Fortunately, they prefer to keep to themselves.

The upshot of this is that I’m never out walking Roo without worrying about snakes. It’s torture. And so, when Roo started to limp suddenly and badly yesterday evening, I lay her down on the ground to check her legs and paws, but I found nothing. We had about half a mile to go, and she was a trooper and powered her way through. After I rinsed the mud off her, I kept checking, but I could find nothing wrong.

The blistering heat set in early this morning. Roo sleeps until at least 1 PM (I’m starting to think she’s depressed a lot of the time), and so it wasn’t until she came out of her corner that I noticed the black spot between her toes on her left front paw. There was a fat black welt and a puncture. When she was bitten by the snake in North Carolina the skin turned black. But this time, nothing seemed to hurt her. I got her into the light to see if there was anything in there, but there wasn’t. I suppose a less freaked out person would have just left it alone to see if it got better, but not me, because when your dog is snakebitten and the ER doctor tells you that one of the four dogs ahead of her in line for antivenin just died because his parent waited too long to bring him in, you remember it.

Dr. Stokes was out on vacation, and he has a recently graduated young vet working in his clinic now. Poor Roo had to be hefted up on the examining table, but Roo was a decent sport about it. The vet, nonetheless, strapped a muzzle on Roo. I told her Roo would not bite but didn’t object beyond that, because I wanted to get it over with and if it made the vet feel better, fine. She said (as several of you guys did when I posted a picture on facebook, and man, you’re all a hell of a lot smarter than I am) it didn’t look like a bite and she went fishing in the puncture with a forceps to pull out a grass seed if there was one there. There wasn’t. She did a good job and the whole thing was over in two minutes. Roo took it like the bravehearted girl she is. Now she has a shaved and swollen foot, and a daddy more anxious to get out of here than ever. We’re stuck for a little while longer, though, that’s thanks to Trump’s loathsome IRS and their determination to get the working poor to hurry up and send their money to the billionaires who really need the dough.

Roo spent the rest of the day sadder than I’ve ever seen her in the absence of thunderstorms. I suppose that between having to go to the vet and the realization that the heat, which is hard on her, she had a lot on her mind.