Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ode to the cone

At the gym this morning, one of my buddies asked me how our new puppy was doing. As we were chatting, I told him about the Beast's little accident and how he is wearing the cone of shame for a couple more days at least. His golden retriever is apparently going through a similar torture, having been condemned to the Elizabethan collar as a result of a hot spot that she can't stop biting and scratching at. The difference is that she has spent the last week languishing around the house, refusing to move or to go outside where her humiliation would be on full display. Whereas the Beast has decided that he will simply live his life the same way he always has - full of wild abandon and reckless energy - just with a big silly cone on his head.

You need to see what he has done to this cone in the 10 short days that he has been forced to wear it. Although he is a very intelligent dog and clues in to things rather quickly, he has not yet figured out that he needs to give himself more space to, say, turn corners, climb stairs or get into his crate while wearing the cone. As a result, he bumps into EVERYTHING. He was already a wee bit klutzy before, but the cone has turned him into the most awkward being I've ever seen. I have to admit that it is slightly amusing. Well actually, it's downright hilarious, which makes me a bad person laughing at the expense of my cone-ridden dog. But it doesn't seem to phase him and even after some of the worse bumps so far, he just resets himself, tries the corner again, and eventually comes around the other side with a big silly smile on his face. If I didn't know any better, I'd think he was doing it on purpose to make us laugh.

Then there is watching him try to get in his crate. If he knows that we are going to put his food puzzle in there so that he can chow down, he can't wait to get in there. And inevitably, every single time, in his crazed excitement, he forgets that the cone is only slightly more narrow than the door to his crate. So he bangs into the left side of the door. Then he readjusts, misses, and bangs into the right side of the door. Readjusts, misses, bangs into the top of the door. Readjusts, misses, bangs into the top again.... Until one of us picks ourselves up off the floor and stops this Abbott and Costello routine by gently guiding him and his cone into the crate.

And of course, the cone takes a serious beating on walks. When he gets his sniff and pee breaks, he rubs that thing up against trees and posts, drags it through wet grass, dirt and rock, and sometimes just trips on it as he is trying to climb back up onto the curb.

Yes, the cone is an ugly mess of dents, dirt and grass stains that won't come out no matter how hard I've tried, and duct tape to hold bits of it that are coming apart together. It is a very white trash look for Mr. Beasty, but he is wearing it remarkably well.

The only real problem is that he can't do his favourite thing in the whole wide world as long as that cone is on. He can't run. :( Hubby and I hate it too. Because as long as he can't run, he can't fully release his energy. And if he can't fully release his energy, he resumes some of his more neurotic tendencies and habits. Like spinning around in a cyclone dance every time we go near his food dish. Or jumping up at us at the door. Or jumping on us when we're on the couch. Or chasing insects. We've tried adding extra walks into his day to help relieve some of this energy. Just yesterday, he totalled 14k over three walks. But it's not enough for him. He looks at up at us every time as if to say, "Hey you two - walking is for chumps! Let's kick this thing into high gear, and then hit the dog park on the way back! Yeah!"

Yep - all three of us can't wait for that cone to come off.

Although... there is one thing that I am really going to miss about that cone.

As a result of wearing it, the Beast is unable to use his paws to hold things to his mouth. This means that he can't hold a bone or a toy in place in order to chew on it. It didn't occur to me how frustrating this must be for him until I was in the basement doing laundry and I just kept hearing this loud clunk on the floor above me. I came up to investigate, and there was the Beast with his deer antler, engaged in the futile exercise of trying to settle down for a good chew. He would drop it on the floor, get his mouth around it, lie down, chew for a few seconds by using the cone to leverage it in his mouth, and then drop it. Whenever he'd drop it, he'd try to move it back over to his mouth with his paws, but no matter what he tried, that pesky shield of a cone stood between his mouth and his paws, and he could not get that deer antler back in. So he'd stand up again, put it in his mouth, chew for a second, drop it, try to use his paws... and over and over again.

While I admit that it was amusing to watch him try to figure this one out, it was also clearly starting to stress him out a little bit. So I put the laundry basket down, looked at him and said, "Hey buddy. Do you need some help?" I sat down on the floor beside him, got him to lie down, and held the deer antler for him for 20 minutes while he chewed and chewed and chewed and chewed and chewed and chewed some more. He was the vision of happiness: ears fully down and back (which means relaxed); pupils fully dilated so that his eyes were these two big brown pools of chocolate love; rolling his eyes toward the back of his head every so often in some kind of orgasmic expression of deer antler bliss; panting slightly as he enjoyed his prize. Ever since, I have settled in with him for a good chew at the end of every day, both of us sitting on the floor, him gnawing away while I watch TSN. Our little moment of bonding.

When the cone comes off, he'll resume the use of his paws, rediscover his independence, and enjoy his antler all on his own.

He won't need me anymore...

I guess the cone isn't all bad.