I promise that even the most obnoxious and rude, kid-jumping, face-licking, toy-chewing, hat-stealing dog can be changed forever into the world’s most perfect pet.
All you have to do is run over him.
Here is our story.
The subject of this tale is of course Winston. At once revered and reviled. An 82 pound bundle of bad-smelling fur and glove-eating, hole-digging, cat-chasing fury.
And the most loving, cuddly, kid-adoring family pet on the place, all at once.
Friday night the kids and I returned home from riding at a friend’s place. We put the horses away and fed. I unhooked the trailer and jumped in the pickup, headed for the house to make dinner. Batman was riding in the back of the truck, sitting on a wheel well for the 300-foot drive. Annabelle had stayed behind and was cleaning out the back of the horse trailer with the wheelbarrow and manure fork.
As I turned the left-hand corner from the grassy trailer parking area to the gravel drive that fronts our house, I looked in the mirror to make sure that Batman was still seated. He was. Immediately after my turn I felt a huge bump under the left rear tire of our long bed Duramax. I’ve run over a curb or two in my day, let me tell you, but this was different. It was a very large bump.
I had not seen anything in or beside the road when I turned, so I was confused and disoriented for an instant.
A loud panicked yelping immediately ensued. I threw open the door of the truck and with the engine still running jumped out to see Winston frantically turning in a circle near the back wheel. His mouth was completely engulfed in dark red blood, and I could also see a patch of blood on his left side.
The kids started screaming.
And crying in despair.
And yelling at me. “Why did you run over Winston, Mom?!!! Why didn’t you stop?!!! Why are you so mean? Is Winston gonna die? I don’t want Winston to die!!!” We have to take him to the vet!! Is he gonna die?!!!”
I tried to console the children while simultaneously doing a quick evaluation of our pup. His mouth was bloody, but it didn’t appear to be actively bleeding. He was walking stiffly, favoring his left side, but I could immediately see that the blood on his side was from his mouth, where he kept turning and nipping at his ribcage. His ribs felt fine; no obvious breaks, and his legs were in good working order.
About that time, DH came out of the house and walked a little ways down the driveway. He asked me what had happened and I told him. He said “Well, you must have just bumped him, because he looks pretty much fine. If you had run him all the way over he would probably be dead” “No,” I told him. “I ran over him; all the way. I felt it.” That changed his expression some, and I could tell he was blaming me too. He called Winston, and Winston walked slowly down to him. I got the kids calmed down enough to come to the house, though they refused to ride in the truck with me.
When we got inside we saw that DH had brought Winston in and put him in his crate. The dog was lying down, and the blood was mostly gone from his mouth. DH had checked him over too, and said he looked basically okay, just really sore.
Then Grandpa Vernon arrived. Grandpa Vernon has cared for a dog or two in his day, and I was relieved to see him walk through the back door ready to lend his aid. He knelt down in front of Winston and gently opened his mouth. After feeling around for damage, he checked the capillary refill time of the dog’s gums to see if he could detect any internal bleeding. While he looked our dog over, I called our friend and vet Dr. Danny on the phone.
Dr. Danny answered his phone immediately I could tell he was out amongst people, but he listened carefully as I quickly detailed what had happened. Dr. Danny knew exactly what I really wanted to determine – since it was past closing time for any local vet, was it necessary to load Winston up and take him to the emergency clinic in Boise or could he wait until morning? Danny asked a few questions, then he advised a conservative approach: keep Winston in his kennel overnight and watch him carefully. He described the same gum-test that Vernon had performed to monitor for shock and internal bleeding, and told me what would necessitate immediate transport. My gut instinct told me that was the right approach.
I hung up the phone and the kids mobbed me, pulling at my clothes. “Are we taking him to the vet? Is Danny coming over? What are we going to do?” I told them we would watch Winston overnight to make sure he wasn’t in mortal danger, and take him to our local vet first thing in the morning to be looked over.
My grief-stricken youngsters immediately let me know that this was not an acceptable approach. Annabelle cried piteously. “I LOVE Winston! Winston is a member of our family. We HAVE to take him to the vet!!” I wavered but stood firm. Grandpa Vernon backed me, although I knew if Winston had been his dog he would have sought immediate veterinary care. DH obviously thought the dog was going to be OK, and I knew he was in favor of waiting until morning too.
I tried to get the kids calmed down. Although Batman was the most upset, he mellowed more quickly when DH got him to come sit with him and look at some fishing videos on the computer.
Annabelle was steadfast in her despair and lack of support for my decision to wait it out. Every crime against children ever committed by the rambunctious bird dog was instantly forgotten.
He was the best dog ever, and I was the MEANEST MOM IN THE WORLD for not taking him to the vet.
We all sat and watched the dog until 10:30 or so. Winston was obviously very sore, but he was alert and his eyes were bright. He methodically swept his long pink tongue over his legs and feet cleaning up any drops of blood that had flung from what I assumed was his bitten tongue. When I finally did go to bed I couldn’t sleep. I checked Winston a couple of times, and he seemed to be sleeping quietly. I still had an awful feeling in my stomach, though, and I wished all night long I had just taken him in to the vet.
When morning dawned I was up early and walked down the hall with trepidation. I didn’t know what the kids would do if Winston was dead. Well, actually I did.
But he wasn’t dead. He was very, very sore, but he did climb gingerly out of the kennel to go outside. He kept stopping every few steps to nip at his side, but I still couldn’t feel any obvious trauma when I ran my hands over his ribs. Annabelle got up while I was in the shower and she let Winston back in and put him in his crate. The kids and I got dressed and we were quickly ready to head out.
DH had agreed to help get Winston into the back of our SUV. I didn’t think he could probably jump in under his own power, and I was also sure I couldn’t lift him. As I rounded up everyone to leave, my hubby was trying to coax the pup out of his crate with a hot dog. Winston just panted and looked at him, refusing to even try to get up. A wave of panic went over me. If he was ignoring a hot dog he was really hurt. Then inspiration struck. I reached into the basket on top of the kennel and pulled out Winston’s red leash.
As soon as he saw the leash, Winston was like the paralyzed ringer who rises from the wheelchair at an old-time tent revival. He stood and practically bounded out of the kennel, stopping a couple of times to glance back at his sore side. He trotted out to the car, albeit a bit stiffly, and put his front legs up on the back to get in. DH lifted him gently the rest of the way and we were off.
When we arrived at the vet our shaggy brown friend jumped from the car unassisted and walked spryly into the office. When we had filled out his paperwork he happily accompanied the technician back to the exam room for his checkup, tail wagging cheerfully. I was completely unsurprised when I got the phone call a couple of hours later to come pick up our pet. He was completely fine; no x-rays were even necessary, said the vet. She would send him home with some pain medication. He was obviously sore, but the only real damage was a small contusion on his lip where he had bitten himself. That would heal on its own, the sweet young doctor said.
I was relieved and exhausted.
As for the kids, they finally forgave me, and are still talking non-stop about what a good dog Winston is. The best dog ever.
All we had to do was run him over to realize it.