A Country Tail

Ollie hasn’t had a great week. After chasing a deer into some bushes, and not catching it of course, he pulled a muscle in one of his back legs, and developed a limp. No sooner had that begun to clear up, than he had a bout of diarrhoea to contend with, probably caused by drinking something potentially lethal, in the river water. Luckily, that soon cleared up, with a couple of days of bland food- chicken and rice, and a good rest.

As he draws near to his second birthday, next February, he has become a little difficult on occasion. He sometimes ignores my commands to return, and often runs the length of the meadow, when he sees another dog. As we decided not to have him neutered, (not yet, anyway) his usual playing with his dog chums has recently developed into shows of dominance. Most of them are doing something similar; shoulder mounting, growling, pawing the ground, and scent-marking every molehill and twig. Even when they seem to be playing happily, they nip harder, bowl each other over, and steal sticks and balls constantly. It is to be accepted, I suppose, as a coming-of-age ritual, which hopefully will not last too long. The shame of it is, that all the dogs concerned were once great friends. All born around the same time, they had their first ever walks together, shared first experiences in the river, and trips across to Hoe Rough.

Now, they are becoming like a gang of squabbling teenagers. Running in groups, careering into people, snarling, biting, and generally wrestling. Ollie, who is otherwise placid and so easy to own, becomes a changed dog across the meadow now. Strutting like a neighbourhood tough guy, on the lookout for any strange dogs to intimidate, or old pals to settle dominance issues with. I have to tell him off so much more, and sometimes walk him on the lead, to keep him in check. The once pleasant walk has turned into a constant reconnaissance mission, as I scan the horizon for potential combatants. Two of his former ‘best mates’, Retriever Duncan, and chocolate Labrador Flynn, are now either attacking on sight, or being pursued by a determined Ollie, keen to show them that he is the boss. I have had to start avoiding walking companions, even occasionally going to different venues, rather than have to encounter them.

Late Saturday afternoon, Ollie had been running around and tussling with Spike, an enormous eight-month old Rhodesian Ridgeback. It was a hard play, that left him with a gash over one eye. Luckily, Spike is still young, and Ollie senses his youth, and takes advantage of that. For the moment, they are still equals, despite the size difference, and Spike’s large ears were targeted on more than one occasion, causing him to yelp, as Ollie sunk his teeth in. As it got later, we decided to make tracks home. Near the river, we encountered a lady, who had another of Ollie’s old friends, Robbie the Terrier, on a lead.  After some sniffing and growling, ( by the dogs…) we said farewell, and walked towards the exit, as it was now almost dark. After getting some distance away, Ollie suddenly turned, and ran back towards Robbie, determined to have the last sniff, and show the small dog where he stood, in the grand scheme of things canine. I heard a snarl, and a high pitched yelp, and saw Ollie running back towards us. He stopped halfway, obviously in some distress, as he kept sitting down.

I went back, to try to cajole him on, and he kept looking at his tail, which is curled in on itself, not unlike a pig’s tail. I went to uncurl it, for a better look in the gloom, and he snapped at me angrily, for the first time ever. I put his lead on, but had trouble getting him to walk home. Once back in proper light, I could soon see that the tip of his tail was gone, bitten off by the angry terrier. There was a nasty-looking wound, and some dried blood around the base. Part of what was left was visible, and it looked very sore. I suppose it must be a bit like losing a fingertip, made worse by the fact that the curl in his tail constantly forces the wound into contact with his back. He can relax it slightly, but not for very long. I tried to get to it, to clean it up, but he was having none of that. All he wanted was to be stroked and cuddled, and he looked very sorry for himself. Mind you, he did eat his dinner, so it didn’t put him off that.

He kept fairly quiet for the rest of the night, not playing with his toys, and constantly seeking reassurance. Even though it was his own fault, we couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. I will take him to the Vet tomorrow, to see what can be done with it, if anything. Today, I drove him up to Neatherd Moor, to keep him out of the river. As soon as he was out of the car, it was plain to see that he was not his usual self; constantly stopping, and looking behind. When other dogs came close, they tried to sniff the wound, no doubt sensing the blood. I had to keep him walking on his own, and cut the usual length of his walk short, as he was patently not enjoying it. On the return journey, with rain increasing, the windscreen wipers on my car began to operate in slow-motion, for some unknown reason. With more rain forecast, and a busy week ahead, the last thing I needed was the inconvenience, and expense, of getting wipers fixed. I have had better weekends, it must be said.

On the plus side, I was published on Curnblog once again, here’s a link; http://curnblog.com/2013/12/14/trip-pictures-watching-movies-post-wwii-london/ Although this made me very pleased, it also coincided with the least ever views on my blog over a weekend, since I started it.

Let’s hope that it is a seasonal aberration.