injury prone

When we first started getting to know the dogs we decided to set some rules and draw some boundaries. We would not intervene in the dogs' lives beyond occasional food and water, and we would meet them on the street only. While they could hang around outside our gate they could not come inside.

Our resolution lasted as long as it took Dougal to pick up the first of his regular injuries. We noticed one day that there were spots of blood on the ground where Dougal had been walking. I checked his paws and discovered that the pad on one of them had been sliced open, probably by glass or a sharp metal edge. We had some antiseptic spray in the house and we applied some of that and left him to heal on his own. The next day his paw was still leaking blood and the cut was now filled with the dirt of the street.

Perhaps it would have healed up without our help - we were coming to understand just how tough these dogs are - but we thought it more likely that it would end up infected and leave him permanently lame or dead. What could we do? He was still a young dog - less than a year old and it seemed wrong to leave him to his fate when we had the power to intervene. So we improvised a leash and collar and walked Dougal round to Dr Allmuca's nearby clinic.

Dougal needed a general anesthetic, some minor surgery to clean out the wound and stitches. We arrived back two hours later to collect a very groggy Dougal, his paw encased in thick bandaging, It must stay clean and dry, Dr Allmuca told us, for ten days. Since Dougal spent his days walking through garbage piles and stagnant water there was only one solution. Dougal moved into our yard that day and Bella, his friend and 'mentor' moved in with him since it seemed pointless to have Dougal inside the gate and Bella outside.

In the first picture Dougal is just back from the vet and making himself comfortable on the porch while sporting a very fashionable plastic bag over his bandage. This picture was taken on 10 May 2006.

After he had recovered Dougal and Bella went back out on the street, but from then on our gate was open to them when they wanted to visit. In the heat of the summer they would lie on our porch in a little bit of shade with the ready supply of water we set out for them.

In the second picture, Dougal is just back from another trip to the vet following another incident. Our guess was that he was attacked by a group of other dogs (probably provoked by his juvenile behaviour) and in making his escape ran through a gap in a chain link fence. The other dogs chewed up his ears (which required more surgery and stitches) and the fence left dozens of scratches on the front of his body, marked here by the purple antibiotic spray the vet applied.

Bella, who never got into this kind of trouble, is sleeping in the background. Taken on 28 July 2006.


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