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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Keeping A Coonhound In Stitches

Since the last time the River Rat Ranger was regularly blogging, his beloved dog, Bay Toe Ven has gone on to his Final Reward... what some would call The Land Of Slow Rabbits.  Regardless, he lived to be 17 and died in my arms.  Mrs. RRR and I spent the weekend grieving, then began looking for a new dog.  We fell in love with a 6 year old Walker Treeing Coonhound who had been rescued by the Humane Society.  She looks like a giant beagle crossed with a bloodhound.

Walkers were started by a man from Virginia named John Walker.  He crossed a hunting dog stolen from a hillbilly with one of George Washington's purebred English Foxhounds.  Ellie Mae has many advantages and disadvantages, the largest of both being she's a coonhound.  That means she lives to hunt and ONLY to hunt.  Turn your back for a moment and she slips her collar and is gone, at least overnight.  It happened last Saturday afternoon.  I'd had a wonderful morning fishing with youngest daughter's oldest two girls and her husband, my son-in-law.  I was sitting at the picnic table on the deck of the cabin cleaning fishing rods and putting on new line and was supposed to be watching Ellie Mae.  My attention wandered... so did she.

Mrs. RRR and I drove around calling her but she was gone.  Saturday night we put her bed out on the deck hoping to find her asleep in the morning.  What we found was a blood soaked dog bed and a trail of blood across the deck to the corner of the house.  There Ellie May lay in distress.  She had a huge wound right behind her left front leg.  It was the size and shape of the top of a steel fence post.  There was also a barbed wire tear on the right hind leg.  The chest wound was ugly.  She must have impaled herself and it looked like the post had slid up along her rib cage for several inches.  We only briefly considered taking her to a vet.  I grew up on a farm where we raised chickens, hogs, and cattle as well as the occasional goose and turkey.  Calling the vet was always the last option, not the first.

So we assembled the gear: a needle and thread, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and lots of paper towels.  Mrs. RRR put on leather gloves and wrapped her arms and legs around the poor dog and hugged her while I washed out the wound with a lot of peroxide.  It took at least a cup before the wound drained back clean.  Then I began to try to sew it shut.  Things didn't go well.  I will never again use a sewing needle if at all possible, but you use what you have available in a crisis.  It was too hard to push through the skin so I went to get a needle nosed pliers from my gunsmithing tools and found a hemostat I'd forgotten I'd purchased to disassemble guns.  We soaked it in alcohol and things went much better.  I would caution readers not to attempt to sew a continuous stitch but rather to tie and cut each separatly.  The last few stitches went much quicker as the skills from the past resurfaced and I had better equipment. 

Then I drove into town to the Farm and Home store and bought a bottle of injectable tetracycline.  Of course it said "For Swine and Cattle" but the dosage was weight based.  It looked like 3 CC would be about right.  Except that the store did not have any syringes.  I went next door to a grocery store with a pharmacy and asked to buy a 3 CC syringe.  When I explained what I needed it for, they gave me an out of date human one free.  I expected more battle from Ellie Mae.. but she'd had enough and lay perfectily still as I gave her a shot inside her thigh and sprayed the wounds with Equine Scarlet Oil.  Forget the picture of the horse on the can... Scarlet Oil or Red Oil is the old standby disinfectent for all wounded animals. 

Ellie Mae was very sore and slow moving Sunday night and Monday morning, but actually wagged her tail a little and wanted to take a walk by Monday evening.  Tuesday morning we took a 1 1/2 mile walk and today a 2 mile.  Success!


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