WARNING to readers with genteel stomachs! This post talks about one of the nastier things dog owners sometimes need to do - taking inappropriate food, in this case a dead animal, off a dog before it can make itself sick.
Last week, J had to go to NZ for work for a couple of days, and I was suddenly responsible for the dogs as a single parent! I really wanted to go for a training run, and had even chatted to a couple of people about meeting up with them on Tuesday night for a run. But we realised that I couldn't get the scooter in the car and out again safely, so that idea had to be scratched. In the end Tuesday was very wet, so we stayed inside and tried to keep nice and dry.
On Wednesday, I felt like I'd better at least walk the dogs, so after work, I headed out. Firstly, Ishka and Frankie took me around the block. Our two eldest dogs are starting to show their age - Ishka's two ACL operations have left her still a little wobbly on her pins, and Frankie's bad back slows him down too. A walk around the block a couple of times a week is sufficient.
Then I went back for the other three. I attached Bolo and Czar to a short brace on the end of a lead, and put Mischa on a second lead. I started off with just the boys attached to my walking belt, but I quickly added Mischa to my walking belt to save my shoulders. Those three really really pull!! By now it was dark out, so instead of using the park to walk around the block, I headed down the street, staying in the glow of the street lights. The dogs are getting more and more accustomed to walking with me like that, and although they pull, they do listen, especially if I say "wait!"
We got a couple of blocks down the road, and suddenly Bolo snatched at something behind a bush. As he came back out into the light, I realised it was a possum carcass. The carcass was absolutely stiff and cold, but not yet rotten and stinky. Czar immediately lunged for a mouthful himself, and Bolo growled firmly. I shoved Czar out of the way before they could get into a fight, and tried to get the possum off Bolo. I tried smacking him, I tried prying his jaws open, I tried kneeling on him, I tried blocking his nose, I tried standing on the cold carcass and pulling Bolo's head up. I could not get him to let go. My efforts were complicated by my squeamishness about touching the dead possum, and my wariness about putting my fingers in his mouth and getting bitten. Not to mention blocking Czar and Mischa from trying to fight him for the meat. To my extreme embarrassment, I was standing on a busy back road, just as many commuters were coming off the nearby freeway. I was hit time and again by headlights, and getting increasingly distressed that my neighbours would be horrified at the display we were making.
After several minutes, I gave up. I rang my neighbour, Zander's mum, and she came rushing out to help. Living with Zander, a German shepherd, and Pi, a pointer cross, she is a pro at working with big strong dogs, and not shy about getting her hands dirty in an emergency either. Her daughter took Czar and Mischa off my walking belt, and Zander's mum and I both grabbed Bolo by the mouth and pried the dead animal out of his mouth. Fortunately, he hadn't damaged it too much, so my fear that it would be bloody and stinky was unfounded. Being Bolo, he gave up the fight without too much protest, accepting that he'd lost the prize without growling or lunging to take it back. I seriously doubt the others would have given up so graciously!
It was without doubt, one of the most disgusting things I have had to do with the dogs in a long time. I was very keen to get home and wash my hands thoroughly, and then wash Bolo's face! I thanked my neighbours and promised them a bottle of bubbles at the next opportunity! What wonderful people - true dog lovers are always amazing at helping people and their dogs with any emergency.