The Danger of Collars

Boomer during happier times.

I used to see these memes on Facebook about dog collars being dangerous to be honest I figured people were over-reacting. After all, I’ve had dogs my whole life and they have never had any issues with their collars. I figured it would take a one in a million chance that something like this could happen right? Besides, it seemed way more dangerous to NOT have a collar on my dog and have them get lost with no way for people to identify and contact me than to wear a simple, little collar. Apparently I had been very lucky. That long standing misconception changed in mere minutes yesterday.

Hubs and I were outside working on one of the ninety million projects we have around the farm and the dogs were playing a few feet from us. Suddenly they went from making happy, play noises to Boomer screaming in pain and panic. As I was scrambling to climb down from where I had been working on the ladder I could see him thrashing around, throwing his body one way and then another trying to get away from Shandy. Shandy, although confused was doing her best to stay still. She obviously understood something was very wrong.

Shandy watching over the farm from her perch on the porch.

It took me only seconds to get to him and he was already foaming at the mouth, fear in his eyes and in obvious pain. A quick glance and I saw his jaw and tooth were stuck on Shandy’s collar and metal ring which attaches the rabies tag. As Boomer struggled to free himself he was now pulling harder and harder on Shandy’s collar, digging it deep into her fur and tightening her pink camo collar into a macabre make-shift noose. Shandy, now getting choked and started to panic as well, beginning her own fight, the fight to breathe.

Between Boomer’s panicked and frantic efforts to pull himself free and Shandy’s frenzied fight to get air I had my hands full and couldn’t get them separated. I started screaming for help and Hubs came running. We were able to get them separated in minutes but it felt like hours. There didn’t appear to be any residual physical trauma to anyone from the ordeal but we were all left deeply shaken.

Afterward Hubs and I, although thoroughly rattled, were feeling incredibly grateful as we played the “what if” game…”What if we hadn’t been right next to them when it happened?” “What if we had been inside and hadn’t heard noise?” After all, neither one could bark and the whole event was remarkably quiet for as traumatic as it was. “What if they had been in their outdoor kennel and we weren’t home?” I truly believe if any of the above scenarios had happened we would have one, possibly two dead dogs. We were so incredibly lucky that this happened while we were literally a few feet away from them.

After decades of having dogs and using collars all the time, I am now a full convert and avid believer of no collars when they are home. I would much rather have a lost dog and be looking for them, than a dead dog. Please, please learn from my mistakes. Don’t let this happen to your fur babies.

Best friends forever.
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The Relentlessness of Farm Life

 

dom headshot

I often talk about how farm life is relentless. It’s got all the ups and downs of a real life soap opera with all the drama of a Greek tragedy. It can be physically and emotionally brutal and there is no mercy given for the weak. My best example of this was the most recent April 13th, also known as the dreaded Friday the 13th.

I woke in the early hours of the morning with the worst stomach flu I think I’ve ever experienced. It knocked me completely on my keester for over 24 hours. The first day I was bed-ridden and struggled to just keep down ice chips so I could stay dehydrated. The whole mess left me weaker than a new born kitten.

So of course during this brief moment in time when I was completely incapacitated….Vessie decided to kid. I think she hates me. Hubs had just crawled into bed (I had never left it) and turned out the light. Less than a minute had passed before we both heard it.

The light flipped back on and he rolled over to look at me, “Did you just hear a baby goat?”.

I so desperately wanted to say no, the struggle was real, but responsibility called. I sighed heavily, “Yes, that was a baby goat.” My next offer was born of the good manners my mother worked so hard to instill in me, and also some measure of desperation, “Can you handle this yourself or do you REALLLLY need me?”

Hubs didn’t respond to my question, which was an answer in itself. I gave another sigh, “Ok, give me a bit and I’ll meet you out there.”

She had a buck and a doe and thankfully, Vessie is a phenomenal mother and managed just fine without our interference. We simply tied, trimmed and dipped cords, ensured they had nursed and then headed back to bed.

A couple hours after that I woke and forced myself to get up and put Dom out to potty. 30726462_10215495165749700_8650755276221787638_n[1] He’s been having health issues for the last 7 months and after tests with no definitive answers and trying a veritable cocktail of different drugs we had finally gotten him somewhat stable on steroids. The side effect of the meds were his ravenous appetite and drinking water like a camel with a hollow leg……which means I had to get up every few hours to let him outside or suffer the consequence.

He went outside but seemed confused and then couldn’t seem to navigate the single step to come back into the house. I went outside to try to help him but in my weakened state I wasn’t much better than him. Rather than try to pick him up and risk dropping him I stumbled down the hall to get Hubs. Hubs went out to help, but when he got to the porch, Dom had disappeared. Hubs called and called for him but there was no response. He then drove down by the chickens (one of Dom’s favorite spots) and then came back up by the house to search some more. I kept asking, “he could barely walk, how far could he have gone?”

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We finally found him behind the house laying on the rain soaked hillside, confused and not responding to our calls. Hubs carried him inside and dried him off. We tried to go back to sleep….again.

A couple hours after that I woke to a horrible crying. I shoved Hubs off the bed saying, “go check on Dom!” knowing that it would take me way too long to get vertical without losing my stomach. He came back saying Dom was laying down and seemed fine. It seemed odd because Domino is stoic and I can’t recall him ever crying out, no matter the circumstances (and he’s had some significant ‘circumstances’) but there was nothing else to do. We heard him cry a couple more times over the night and finally gave up the idea of sleeping around 4:00am.

As I sat on the floor next to Dom I finally observed him during one of his crying spells. He appeared to be having small seizures. Hubs and I looked at each other and knew, it was time. We sat with him on and off for the next few hours waiting for the vet to open, reminiscing about better days with Dom.

As I shakily dressed for the trip, I briefly wanted to skip the whole thing and ask Hubs to take him. I had a legitimate reason. I was still horribly sick, shaky and slightly feverish….. but he was my best friend. How could I not be there when he needed me most? I dragged myself to the car and we made the silent drive to say goodbye.

I don’t know how to say goodbye to the one that loves you more than anyone else in the world. He was my shadow, my constant companion and my best friend. He was better than most people I know cheerful, loyal and loving. I’m going to miss him tremendously.

So you see, farming really is as dramatic as a soap opera. In just this 24 hour period we had sickness, new life and heart-breaking loss. As I’ve said before, hold your loved ones close (2 and 4 legged) and count your blessings every chance you get. They aren’t guaranteed.

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