Monday, September 24, 2018

Convenient Animals

Animals are usually convenient devices in novels where the horses & hounds are always in great shape & ready to go.  In reality, they get sick & pick up injuries as often as people.  There's certainly nothing convenient about it & it's expensive both in time & money.

My daughter, Erin, & her husband, Josh, own the property that adjoins ours & their backyard opens into our south field.  They lived with us for most of a year while waiting to buy the house, so our animals often have issues figuring out where they belong.  Between us, we have 5 dogs, 3 cats, a rabbit, 2 goats, & 3 horses.  That's not a lot of animals for a farm, even a lazy gentleman's farm, but we've simplified as we've aged & prices have climbed.

We generally use one veterinary office staffed by four vets.  Two specialize in small animals, the other two in large animals.  We deal with the latter most of the time since they come out to the farm, but we know the small animal vets at the office all too well.  (Most others stand in line, they usually just hand us the meds & bill us later.)

Last Wednesday, Orion, one of the kids' cats, was hunting around our house when he had a tiff with our cat, Raven.  Fur flew & Orion went back home while Raven picked up a nasty bite in his cheek; a puncture that got infected despite our best doctoring & his protests.

Friday, Molly, Erin's 13 year old Australian Shepard mix, needed a tumor removed from her elbow.  Erin took her & Raven in to the vets' office.  She got them home only to find Topaz, her old Thoroughbred, had popped an abscess in his hoof & didn't want to put any weight on it.  It was expected & not unusual, but meant she had to spend an hour soaking his hoof twice a day.

Saturday morning, Erin fed Molly with a pill in peanut butter mixed into the kibble, the only way she'll eat it.  After Molly started to eat, Erin started her own breakfast only to realize Molly had walked away.  Erin went to get her & came back to find Orion eating Molly's breakfast.  Why?  That cat has never eaten dog kibble before, so maybe it was the peanut butter?  There was no pill in Molly's food.  Who ate it?  The pill would be really bad for Orion & the vet said to get it out of him.  The kids tried, but couldn't get him to throw it up, so Josh took Orion to the vets' office.

Erin walked up to the barn since she & my wife, Marg, had a riding lesson.  They met only to find Tango, our young Thoroughbred, shivering in the barn not putting any weight on his near (left) hind leg.  They checked him all over, but could only find a really sore stifle.  He'd probably run around, slipped, & pulled something the night before or early in the morning.  He was so uncomfortable that the vet was called & he promised to stop by about lunch time, so Marg took Pumpkin to the lesson alone while Erin waited for the vet.

In the meantime, Josh got back with a very sick cat.  The vet had a lot of trouble getting him to throw up.  Eventually he did & no pill was found, but the cat was sick the rest of the day - disgustingly sick several times.  Not his fault, but one more thing to deal with.

Marg & Pumpkin got back from their lesson about the vet showed up.  He went over Tango thoroughly & finally decided the same thing the girls had.  It was just muscle soreness, so Tango just needed some stall rest & hand walking until he healed up.  Liberal applications of Bigeloil (It's pronounced 'beagle oil' & is a liniment something similar to Bengay or Icy-Hot, although it is a liquid, not a paste.) should be applied to the leg from the hock up.  Just what they'd decided, but at a premium price for an emergency farm visit.

That evening, Erin was putting the Bigeloil on Tango's leg when she found a huge hematoma inside his upper thigh, almost by the groin.  It was HUGE (half the size of an American football) & had a light pink scratch on it.  She took pictures & sent them to the vet.  The vet was quite upset at missing it, but they all agreed they'd looked there & hadn't seen anything, so it must have swelled up hours later.  They decided to let it go over night & see if it swelled more (which would require the vet to come out to drain it on a Sunday) or see if it went down on its own.  It is going down, but Tango is miserable & likely will be for a week or so.

The girls seemed to spend half of Sunday out in the barn since both Topaz & Tango require about an hour of medical attention twice a day in addition to cleaning their stalls, extra work since our horses are generally turn-outs.  And they still had all the normal barn chores to do.

So two-thirds of our horses can't be ridden & are requiring about four times as much time as normal.  Orion needed extensive clean up, Raven may need another vet visit, & Molly keeps trying to do too much with the stitches in her elbow, so needs to be watched very carefully.  Next month's vet bill will be astronomical.

It's not convenient or abnormal, just time consuming & expensive.  I sometimes wished I lived in a fantasy world...


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