Life with a dog by Angela Caldin

I’m a bit late with my blog contribution this week because of circumstances beyond my control. It’s fair to say that not many people have noticed, apart from Trevor who has sent an email of admonishment this morning. The new year is now underway which seems a fitting time to correct the omission.

The dog on his new bed

The situation is as follows: our daughter and family have gone away for a short break at Lake Taupo and in a moment of extreme generosity I agreed that we would look after their dog. The dog in question is a labradoodle who developed from a very sweet puppy into a gangly grown-up dog of very little brain, though friendly and eager to please.

Sleep deprived

The dog has allergies for which he receives a monthly injection and he is particularly prone to problems with his ears which make him shake his head and rub his ears on the furniture. He spent his first night with us shaking his head so madly that his ears flapped wildly from side to side, rattling the name badge on his collar and destroying any semblance of a good night’s sleep.

The dog on the red sofa – a bed he prefers

The next day, my husband decided to take him out for a short walk before our usual coffee time of 11am. By 12.15 they had not returned and I was starting to worry. My tracker showed me that they were walking round in small circles in the Waiatarua Reserve. I phoned and told him to head for Grand Drive which he did, except he walked along it the wrong way. Phoned again and told him to turn around 180 degrees, keep walking and I would come and pick them up. Mack collapsed in a heap for most of the afternoon and evening punctuated by bouts of frenzied ear shaking. It was obvious that he needed to see the vet because he was really suffering. They were very busy at the vet’s, but had one free slot at 7.40am the next morning, a time of day which has become unfamiliar to me in recent years. Nothing for it but to take the slot and put the alarm on. I took him out for a last pee up the drive and back. He had lots of sprinkly pees and we were almost home when he popped out a poo, so I had to grope about in the dark struggling to open a poo bag while retching quietly.

Even more sleep deprived

The dog at his most appealing

The dog and I arrived punctual but bleary-eyed at the vet’s after another night of frantic ear-shaking and disturbed sleep. A calm and crisp young woman took samples from his ears, looked at them under a microscope and pronounced that he had not one but two infections – yeast and bacterial in case you’re interested. She sent us off with pills and a pump action ear spray. The dog gambolled out into the waiting room where a very small kitten was peering out of a very large carrier. The dog bent his head down so that they came face to face whereupon the dog barked a loud authoritative bark. The kitten didn’t flinch one inch, but the owner gave a very loud tut of disapproval as if to imply that people should have their animals under better control.

The dog and I are getting quite slick at downing the pills and squirting in the lotion. The ear tossing is less frequent and less hectic and I think that when the family get back tomorrow, he’ll be back to normal. They’ll be grateful of course, but they might be surprised when I mention that kennels could be a good idea next time. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I may have mentioned that last year.

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