After such a long hot and dry spell I’m loving the cooler, wetter days we’re having just now. I feel like I have much more energy, and I’m finally getting round to all the little house upkeep jobs that need to be done before winter. In the last few weeks I’ve fixed some leaky guttering, done some repairs on our deck and painted all the other external woodwork. Most of these jobs turned out to be more challenging than they should have been, largely because the cooler weather has also reinvigorated the furry members of our family.
While I was making plans to fix the house, Beanie & Biggles got to grips with some of the projects that they’d been putting off too. Biggles finally hunted down my last stash of sandpaper and turned it into abrasive confetti. When I came to mask off the window frames, I found that someone had also put tooth-sized holes in all my rolls of masking tape. And those baldy bits of lawn I’d dug over and reseeded with grass? Well Beanie felt they needed a bit more digging, then brought soil samples into our bed for further analysis.
Our beach runs have likewise been more interesting. One day – after completing an interval at a faster pace – I looked round for the pups and realized that they’d fallen behind for some reason. They were maybe 150 meters away, and I could see Beanie running about sniffing something intently while Biggles was lying down with his erect tail wagging away. I called to them, promising chicken and biccies. Beanie looked at me blankly for a second then returned to what she was doing. Biggles stood up and turned to face me, but wasn’t prepared to leave Beanie.
I felt that action would work better than a second call at this point, so I turned my back to them and carried on running. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw that Biggles was now following me; it wasn’t a full commitment sprint, but he was on his way. He caught up with me quickly so I stopped, rewarded him with chicken and looked back to observe the Beanster. Experience has taught me that a motionless Beanie with her head down in feeding position is a cause for concern (we hold the record at our old vet for medically induced vomiting to remove foreign objects) but in this case she seemed quite animated. I judged that it was safe to go on a little further, pressuring her to give up on whatever she was doing and rejoin the pack. With Biggles trotting loyally by my side I ran on for another hundred meters or so, then again stopped to assess the situation. Beanie was just a distant dot on the beach now, and I tried calling her one more time.
“Beanie! Biggles is getting chicken and you’re missing out!”
The little Beanie dot stubbornly refused to come running and I realised that I wasn’t going to win this; there was no alternative but to go back and get her. As soon as I started moving Biggles ran on ahead for a short distance, waited for me to catch up, then ran on ahead again as though guiding me back. I was both intrigued and concerned about what could have held the Beanster’s attention so firmly. When we got close enough the mystery was finally solved: she’d found a big plastic milk container and was desperately trying to get at the small mixture of sour milk and sea water that was swilling around inside it. When she saw me heading towards her she looked relieved, just as she does when I help her recover a piece of kibble lost under furniture.
Unfortunately for Beanie, I wasn’t about to help her get the last dregs of milk from that container. I attached her lead and gave her a small piece of chicken by way of consolation, then took a moment to further assess the situation. Did Beanie look wider and fuller than she’d been at the start of the run, or was it my imagination? Just a few feet from the container was its green screw on top. The chances of both the container and its top being washed in so close together by the tide were remote; it was far more likely that the top had been securely fitted when it arrived on the beach, and that my resourceful girl had removed it. Now came the thought that the container had been full when Beanie found it. Checking the label, I saw that the capacity was 6 pints. I looked at Beanie, trying to assess whether there really could be six pints of dodgy milk in there. She was wider than normal, and her stomach did look swollen. I gently palpated her abdomen as I’ve so often seen the vet do; it was firm. Really firm. Van tyres at extra pressure for a long journey kind of firm. For comparison I tried the same test on Biggles: pliable and squidgy. Yep, six pints confirmed. The run back was conducted at a more leisurely pace than normal, and that evening Beanie made a lot of visits to the outside loo, but at least we didn’t need an emergency stomach evacuation at the vet this time.
Unfortunately we did end up at the vet for his Biggleship. For a while now he’s had a little growth on one of his rear feet. A week ago the growth lost its covering of fur and appeared quite red and angry, so off we went to the doggy doctor. The vet quickly dismissed our fears that it could be something sinister, but nevertheless suggested an operation to remove it. Currently he’s on a course of antibiotics to see if that will calm the lump down and shrink it. While I understand the logic of getting rid of this thing while it’s relatively small, I don’t relish the post-op recovery. It’s my litte boy’s 10th birthday at the end of August, but instead of having fun he could be going stir crazy in the house for up to two weeks with stitches, dressings and a bag on his foot. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the op won’t be necessary.