What Is Your Pet Saying?
Maybe some pets communicate loudly and distinctly, but my little dog, Rosie, is pretty quiet and reserved. She’ll be 14 this March, so we’ve been together long enough that we are pretty well in sync with each other. She is such a great companion for me. I got her as an 8-week old puppy. It was at the same time that I was recovering from cancer treatment. She was our 5th dog! So, we most definitely did not need another dog, however, this little ball of fur was just what I needed to take my mind off of how rotten I felt.
Rosie rarely barks. The only thing she’ll typically bark at is other dogs. She likes to nap on the back of the sofa where she can see out the front window. If a dog comes near or in our yard, she’ll alert me. But other than that, she’s a pup of few words!
I have moved around a bit since I’ve had this little comrade – to Las Vegas, Utah, and most recently to Montana. Rosie is so adaptable – desert, mountains, snow, planes, cross-country car trips, hurricane evacuations – she’s ultra cool with all of these. She seems happy as long as she’s with me!
A few months ago, she and I were flying back to Montana after visiting my mom in Mississippi. Rosie happily goes into her pink leopard print carrier for flying. We were boarding our plane in New Orleans and happened to be one of the last few boarding, and at the rear of the plane. I carried her in front of me walking down the narrow aisle. She started these funny little barks. People began to notice us and smile at her. She continued. “Woof!” “Woof!” “Woof!” I was surprised and becoming a little bit embarrassed as she was making herself known. (Very out of character for her!)
It was 4:30 in the afternoon and our first of two legs on this trip. We got settled in our seat, Rosie going under the seat in front of me, still woofing until the plane took off. Once we were in the air, she quieted down and went to sleep.
Somewhere between New Orleans and Denver, it dawned on me what she was saying to me with her barking. I feed her her evening meal around 4:30 every day, but purposefully didn’t this particular day, due to our travel schedule. I thought it would be better to wait until later when we got home.
Rosie is very fond of mealtime, and I have to think that she was fairly disgruntled to think that I had forgotten to feed her! I was really amused with her outburst, but glad that I figured it out. When we got to Denver, I let her eat some dry kibble out of my hand. That seemed to satisfy her, a happy camper once again!
On a bit of a more serious note, a few weeks ago, I took her to be groomed. It was at the same place we’ve been going to here in Montana for the past 6 months. Rosie gets a haircut every 4 weeks, and has for her entire life. She has always been happy to go. She is so easygoing. It’s never bothered her to go anywhere, including to the vet or on the occasion that I’ve had to board her in a kennel.
When I took her in to the groomer, she was trembling. That seemed odd to me. It was cold out, but I had her dressed in her usual cold-weather attire: a sweater, a jacket. The grooming girls were very sweet, telling me, “She’ll be fine! She’s a little sweetie!” I trusted that they were correct, and left her to be groomed. Everything seemed to be okay.
Because it’s so cold here, Rosie always wears at least a sweater right now. It happened to be 4-5 days after that particular grooming that I removed her sweater to comb and massage her. (She loves to have a massage and a paw rub!) I discovered a scab on her right shoulder, about the size of a penny. I showed it to my husband and we agreed that the only time she was out of my sight was when she had her hair cut. We figured it must have been a clipper cut on her skin. I cleaned the area with some hydrogen peroxide and put a dab of Neosporin on it for a couple of days. She seemed fine.
A few days later, my husband and I decided to go to Seattle for New Year’s Eve, to hang out with some of our favorite friends. I had to take Rosie back to the same place, as that is the boarding kennel I used also. It’s appeared to be a great place. They have an indoor doggie gym for day care, veterinary services, and big outdoor play areas as well.
When I took Rosie in, she began trembling again. The staff was very friendly and assured me she would be fine. But, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t fine. My dog is very laid back and happy-go-lucky. Trembling when we went somewhere was an unusual reaction for her. Was I imagining things? I didn’t think so. I shared my concern with my husband and he assured me also that she would be fine.
I couldn’t wait to pick little Ro up when we returned from Seattle. I already knew in my heart that I wouldn’t be bringing her back to this place. I had been in touch with a young girl about house-sitting for us right before we left on this trip. Rosie had met her and loved her. I definitely had options!
When I got my little buddy home, I inspected her shoulder again. The sore was double the size it had been. I was alarmed and worried. My husband agreed – get her to a veterinarian to have that checked.
I was able to get her in to see a new vet on Monday. One that I had two personal recommendations for. Rosie was a little nervous and shaky when we first walked in, but the staff and doctor were fantastic! She soon relaxed and seemed her chill self again.
The veterinarian cleaned up the sore and showed it to me. Rosie had indeed been cut by the clippers and the cut was abscessing and getting worse. My heart dropped when I saw her wound. I felt so bad! My sweet little pup was telling me with her nervousness about going back to that place that she had had a bad experience. I prefer to give the previous establishment the benefit of the doubt. Surely they were doing their best and they didn’t realize they had cut her.
But the lesson in it for me is to pay attention to the subtleties of my dog’s communication with me, and I am so thankful that I did! Our animals do communicate with us, it’s just that sometimes we don’t notice it. We may just be busy and not stop to realize what they are saying to us. They say things with their eyes, their habits, and their little voices.
Four days after seeing our new vet, Rosie’s sore is almost healed. We won’t be returning to the old place, as their standards don’t line up with ours. And I will keep listening to this adorable little fuzzy girl with the big round eyes and the heart of gold!