Today I ran out of Band-Aids. Actually, they were some off brand from the chain of drug stores. But I ran out of them, anyway. The last two days have not been a celebration of intact integument. Sorry. For those of you without medical training, integument means skin. Don’t mean to be huffy and disrespectful of those without a medical education. Far from it. You all know the joy of skin poked through with sharp objects, and torn asunder with similar implements. Of this is what I speak. So please pardon the big words. My skin has been rent full of holes, so I used up all the Band-Aids in the place.
Yesterday, the penetrators were the usual six month old cat, immersed deeply in the brat stage of cat development, and a joy filled young pit bull who just wanted to love me to death. The little kitty simply drove a few claws into my arm during a moment of indecision. And the joyous pit bull was merely overcome by the moment, because she thought I might pet her. The dog claws torn off a much larger piece of my skin, or integument, than the cat could manage. She didn’t mean to. But this put a dent in the Band-Aid box.
Today’s animals weren’t so well intentioned. When I first met the German Shepherd, she was only eleven weeks old, and she should have been delighted to meet some strange bearded man who approached her across the exam room table. But no, she wasn’t all that well adjusted, and she was pure freaky scared and dangerous at eleven weeks of age that I could not even pet her. I remember thinking that by the time she was a year old, I wouldn’t be able to enter the room with her.
And the little one, the Chihuahua mix…..well she nearly screamed when I tried to touch her when she was only eight weeks old. I remember wondering just what it takes to completely ruin a darling little puppy at this tender age. What horrors can you expose it to that will take an animal that wants nothing more than to love total strangers, and turn it into a cowering snarling vicious totally harmed puppy monster. So now that she is five months old and a huge nine pounds, she is actually a dangerous dog that should be killed for its own good, for the terror it lives every day is intolerable torture. But you cannot say a word, for we must respect the culture that destroyed her, because that’s the politically correct thing these days.
So tonight I sport five Band-Aids on my arms and fingers. I was wrong about the German Shepherd, for she did let me touch her, but when I touched her chest with my stethoscope, she launched into the air, wild eyed with terror and rage, and the left hand of mine on her collar held her tight. She raked my arms with her claws, and thus my blood tumbled to the floor as I auscultated her heart prior to admitting her for the anesthetic and surgery. The mop cleaned the floor, and the bandages stemmed the flow of blood, and we spayed her so thank the Lord she will never have puppies condemned by genetics and a mother’s teaching to a life of terror and violence.
The Chihuahua cross showed up scheduled for a vaccine, but once here the man who translated the other language into English for my benefit told me that the puppy had been vomiting and now would not eat. So I thought some version of a physical examination was in order for this puppy. She now was five months old, and she trembled on the exam table. She squirmed when I touched her. Her tummy seemed OK, and so I thought a peek at her eyes and mouth in order. Well, that was not to be. My blood flowed again as the puppy’s claws tore into my wrist, and when I wrenched my arm free, I carelessly left my finger available for the sinking of those tiny teeth we call needle teeth. I might have mentioned to the owner that such behavior was a tad inappropriate in a puppy that should run unabated to any stranger for hugs and pets. But such was a waste of breath and effort. I did mention that I hoped the disease present was the self-limiting version, for if the puppy needed more care, it was going to die, for no one could help the nasty little, ah, creature.
So tonight I wear the five Band-Aids, and I wonder why.
Last week was one of those times you hate when you are the veterinarian. I spent the week telling wonderful owners of wonderful pets that we were dealing with incurable painful diseases, and the only thing of value I could offer was the quiet and humane ending of miserable life. We had too many such last week, and we thought we could not possibly cry any more.
So tonight, after stopping by the drug store for more Band-Aids and some more bourbon, I wondered aloud….. just what is worse, the killing of wonderful pets for wonderful people when that was all we had to offer, or the dealing with the dregs of humanity who have destroyed their animals with neglect and cruelty, whose animals leave me bleeding and hurt, and they could not care less. And I had no answer to my own question.
So I opened and then destroyed the bourbon, and tried to type this. And I have no clue right now why I do this silly thing with my life.