Red's Hard Day
Red had an unexpectedly difficult day in Massachusetts today, the kind of day you don't want your dog to have, but which often occurs in the real lives of real dogs. We were walking near the Blue Star farm when Red encountered another dog, larger and aroused, he walked over to her and she attacked him suddenly, there was a brief and ugly fight, and Red's eyelid was torn above his right eye and there was a puncture wound or two on his head.
Border collies are not fighters, their jaws and teeth are not nearly as powerful as the dog that attacked him, but Red stood his ground, as herding dogs do. The dog's owners pulled her off of him as soon as they could.
Our friend Paul Moshimer called the farm's vet – Dr. Clifford Morcom of the Mill Valley Veterinary Clinic, he came in on a Sunday afternoon – he is old school in the best sense – and stitched up Red's wounds. We were very grateful he did that, eye wounds need treatment right away, as Paul pointed out – he was a first responder for many years. Dr. Morcom was impressive, calm, professional, efficient and sensitive. About all you can ask from any veterinarian.
People often squawk about vets, but the level of veterinary care is, in my experience, extraordinary, and often under difficult circumstances. Red was also amazing, he was calm and still throughout a stressful and painful procedure. Dr. Morcom gave him a mild tranquilizer and Red was still all the way home. He was anxious and disoriented after the attack, but then settled. When we got home, we went into the pasture to check on the animals and Red came in with us – I thought it would be grounding for him to work, and it was. I wanted him to resume his normal habits and routines, I wanted to make sure there were no mental after-effects. He pushed Liam back into the flock and went into his ferocious crouch.
He is fine.
Red is on antibiotics for a week and eye drops three times a day. The stitches come out in two weeks.
All in all, we were lucky. The bite came close to the eye, which was not harmed and border collies are notorious stoics, they are not into drama. They bounce back from stuff like this all of the time. We wish perfect and pain-free lives for our animals and our dogs, but that is not possible. They live in the real world just like we do.
I stayed back, as I have been taught to do, that is when dogs and people usually get hurt – most often these brawls are quick but this one got ugly. Fortunately the dog had a long lede on her and it was possible to pull her back and I called Red off and he came. It was important for me to stay calm so that he could stay calm, and then we got the dog to a vet quickly, which was fortunately possible. I would not have wished to wait overnight or find an emergency clinic in a strange state.
It worked out, I'm grateful to Paul for his good advice and calm help and to Dr. Morcom for coming in in 20 minutes to treat Red, we love him dearly, it was very hard to see him injured, of course. In situations like this, we are all tested, humans and people, and we all did well. Red is good, he is sound asleep beneath my computer, as usual.