Dog Days of Summer, Part II

The Dog Days of Summer continued a couple of weeks after Champ fell in the hole, but this time Susie, our 12-year-old rat terrier/Jack Russell terrier cross, was the unfortunate one.  Susie has had several rough experiences in her life including a broken leg and a ruptured uterus during the delivery of her six puppies, but the events of Sunday, August 12, 2012 made those injuries seem minor in comparison.  Sirius must have been shining brightly that night because her survival is nothing short of miraculous.  I’m just hoping the band Florence and the Machine is right, and the Dog Days Are Over!

That evening I let Tuffy in at 8:00 p.m., and I wasn’t overly concerned that Susie wasn’t with her as she often goes out to hunt after dark, especially if we have her on a diet as we did that week.  Around 10:00 pm. we heard the dogs barking ferociously as 4 of them ran past the house in a blur of legs and tails.  John walked to the door to listen, but they were completely quiet by the time he got outside.

We didn’t hear anything after that so I had no cause for concern as I headed to the door at 12:30 a.m. to put Champ out one last time.  I was happy to see Susie waiting patiently to come in for the night so I wouldn’t have to call or look for her.  I leaned over to pick her up and scold her for staying out so late, but my words were cut short by the horrific sight.  The skin on her back had been ripped loose leaving her flesh exposed from her shoulders almost to her hips.  I closed the door and ran quickly to the bathroom to grab some towels.  John had been in bed for a couple of hours so it took some time to get him awake enough to comprehend the gravity of the situation, but he followed me to the door and picked Susie up after I wrapped her in the towels.  He carried her to the kitchen, sat her gently on the floor, and unwrapped the towels to inspect the injuries more closely.

In addition to the obvious wound, she had deep puncture wounds on one hip and her abdomen on the other side.  They were obviously bite marks, and we figured they were the first point of attack by a coyote.  She either managed to get away or the coyote released her for a fatal blow that instead resulted in her skin being torn away.  Our assumption was that the other dogs heard the attack and scared the coyote away when they rushed by the house barking wildly.  As we discussed our options, Susie sat on the floor without a whimper.  She shivered periodically and eyed us sadly as if she knew we were discussing her fate.

I decided since she fought so hard to survive, she deserved every chance we could give her so I loaded the pet carrier in the suburban, and John called the 24-hour clinic in Hutchinson so the veterinarian on call could meet me there.  It’s a very good thing that I only saw one deer in a ditch and all law enforcement officers were patrolling other parts of the county because I made the trip in record time.  After the vet examined Susie, she kept repeating how severe her injuries were.  Even though I was convinced Susie would make it, I finally asked her what she thought her chances were.  She said, “I can’t give you percentages, but I’ve seen a lot of dogs with injuries far less severe that didn’t make it, and here’s the estimated cost of surgery.”  While I contemplated how painful her recovery would be and what the return on investment would look like with a 12-year-old dog,  Susie stuck her tongue through the muzzle the vet had placed over her mouth and licked my hand.  That’s when I pulled out my credit card and said, “Let’s do it.”

It took two veterinarians two and a half hours and hundreds of stitches to put her back together, but she came home three days later with antibiotics and pain pills.  Eighteen days after the attack she got all the staples and stitches removed.  One small patch of skin died so that scar may be visible in the future, but her hair is growing back, and it won’t be long before most of the trauma is concealed.  She is building back her muscle tone and getting stronger every day so the worst is definitely behind us.  I really hope we have an early fall this year because I’m ready for the Dog Days to be over!


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