September 12th, 2017
I have found after years of experience that if something unpleasant happens, then one can expect two more such occurrences to follow. In recent weeks, Bailey has been plagued with diarrhea after ingesting (more like inhaling) wild blueberries. The berries come into season by the third week of August and continue ripening well into September. She and her sidekick, Cas, had been running off-leash on a local trail every morning. Their excursions into the bush became more frequent as they discovered the wondrous taste of ripening berries. Back on the trail, their owners were clueless as to how much was being consumed. The happy, piggy grunts coming from my sweetness should have alerted me. I finally had to admit that Bailey was like a giant harvester clearing a stripped path through the berry patch. The solution was to keep both dogs on leash until the end of the berry season. I also reduced the amount of vegetables given as treats and toppers on meals just to be on the safe side. Although the diarrhea finally disappeared, we were not out of the woods yet.
The two dogs and their owners continued to hike the trail – starting at 6:30 am. The first of September arrived with a bang – literally. Halfway into our hike, the beasts were unleashed for a quick frolic. Bailey and her pal were thrilled to finally be loose. They darted in and out of the shrubbery lining the trail. Suddenly, a string of loud bangs were heard followed by a couple of barks from Cas. These barks sounded quite different from his normal repertoire. My first thought was a car had backfired. Then, it dawned on us that it was a gun being fired. Owning a large black dog that can pass as a small black bear was a real concern. I was not any safer myself because my clothes were black as well. Our dogs were not visible which made for a few anxious moments as we quickly went in search of them. I found Bailey further up the path, looking somewhat mystified as to where her buddy was hiding. Fortunately, I was able to keep her attention long enough to clip the leash back on. Cas took a little longer to locate but, he was finally back on lead after what seemed like an eternity. We wondered who would be firing guns when it was still dark out. I always considered this trail to be safe from hunters as it is within the town’s limits. The four of us quickly made our way down the trail towards home. My heart racing as I listened for more shots. We learned afterwards that it was opening day for hunting season. This particular trail was going to be off limits until the season closed. It seemed the best decision rather than risk having our dogs mistaken as game. The dogs obviously did not understand. Bailey and Cas were not thrilled with the street walks. But, we still had the field at Jean Lake Recreation Area to let the dogs play off leash. Or, so I thought.
The final misfortune came last week. On Monday, Bailey went on her usual morning walk followed by a snooze until lunch time. She ate her lunch and lay down on her blanket. When I called her for the afternoon walk, she pulled herself up and limped to the door. I could see that Bailey was favouring her right paw. A closer examination revealed that the pain was with her paw and not the leg. Leg injuries for Newfoundland dog owners are something to fear. She hobbled out for a quick business break before returning home for an afternoon of rest. That night, I discover a lump growing on the side of her second paw pad. Bailey pulled her paw back even if it was only lightly touched. A magnifying glass and headlamp revealed an opening the size of a pin hole. I couldn’t help but, wonder if she had picked up a sliver. Although she had stopped limping by Tuesday night, the bump remained. A vet appointment was made for Friday and Bailey’s movements were further restricted – no trails, no off-leash and no long walks or outside playtime with Cas.
I kept the wound clean in the meantime. Bailey saw the vet who took a blood sample from the lump. The results showed a high white blood cell count which may be the result of an infected cut or the presence of a foreign body like a sliver. Bailey was given a two week supply of antibiotics in the hopes that any infection would be cleared up. I was told to keep cleaning the area and to restrict walks to pavement only. If the lump did not improve over the next two weeks, Bailey would have her pad opened up and flushed to remove any foreign matter. A procedure which could require that Bailey be put under with anesthetic and the recovery time could be several weeks. I was definitely going do everything to avoid that outcome. I have been vigilant about keeping the area clean – almost fanatical at this point. The two of us have been practicing Rally-O commands for short periods of time in the garage. It helps to break up the monotony. Bailey really misses hanging out at the old haunts like the ball field and the dog park. She has managed to attract extra rubs and attention from our houseguests and the family. Perhaps, Bailey’s luck will change for the better once this third incident is behind her.