Thursday, August 2, 2012


So, Friday was an ordinary day, just like any other Friday this summer.  Hot, humid, unpleasant to be outside.  I got everything done outside that I needed to do and was inside doing some things when Greg got home.  He casually mentioned that he hadn't seen Gibbs and Sophie out with the sheep when he came through the gate.  Hmm, I thought.  I wonder where they are.  I went outside to find out and to put the sheep up in the barn.  No Dogs.  Anywhere.  This has been an on again, off again problem since Gibbs came to live here but I thought I had solved the problem with the fence.  He's a wanderer.  Sophie pretty much sticks with the sheep and has rarely if ever shown any interest in what's outside our perimeter fence.  Gibbs is not a purebred Great Pyrenees.  He's half Pyrenees and half Anatolian Shepherd, and the instincts of Anatolians are a little different from Pyrs.  I would describe him as more of a Sentry than a true Sheepdog.  He patrols.  The entire property.  He walks the fence.  He barks, even when there's nothing to bark at. 

Inevitably, he has "discovered" ways to escape the fence and when he does, I have to figure out how he's getting out and patch up the fence.  I know, it seems like this would be a simple task but remember this is 40 acres and most of the fence was here when we bought the place.  He doesn't go over, he finds ways to go under it.  The fence is overgrown with weeds, sticker bushes, small trees and vines, and Poison Ivy :(   so it's not like just looking for holes in a nice pristine fence.  Sometimes the only clue that I've located the escape route is little tufts of white fur tangled in the barbed wire. 

Anyway, Gibbs has escaped maybe four or five times in the last seven months.  On two occasions, he convinced Sophie to go with him.  The last time they left together, I got a phone call from my neighbor about a half a mile away, letting me know that they were in the pond in his pasture.  That was a simple fix.  I just drove around to his place, went through his gate, drove down to the pond, and convinced them that they needed to get in the Jeep and come home.  Other than a smelly back seat, no harm, no foul, although Greg was not pleased at the condition of the Jeep. 

Fast forward to Friday and Gibbs had managed to get out of the fence.  Somehow, he coaxed his well-behaved sister to join him.  Here's how I think that conversation went.

Gibbs:  Hey Sophie, look, I'm outside the fence!

Sophie:  So?

Gibbs:  I squeeeeezed between the gate and the post.  Come on, try it.

Sophie:  No.  I'm busy.

Gibbs:  Come on Soph, let's get out of here.

Sophie:  Where will we go?

Gibbs:  The lake, Silly!

Sophie:  What about the sheep?

Gibbs:  They'll be fine.  It's the middle of the day.  What could happen?  Hurry up.

Sophie:  I dunno.

Gibbs:  Let's go for a swim.  We'll come right back.

Sophie:  Welllll, Okay. 

Gibbs:  Sweet! 

(four or five hours pass, it's getting dark and I'm driving around the lake and up and down our road trying to find them)

Sophie:  Gibbs, we really should go back.  We're gonna be in deep shit if Mom finds out we're gone.

Gibbs:  Nah, she'll never miss us.

Sophie:  Come on Gibbs, I'm leaving.

Gibbs:  Oh, alright.  I'm tired anyway but lets do this again tomorrow.

Sophie:  We'll see...

Okay, so by now it's 10:30 p.m. and Greg happens to be out on the deck.  Here they come up the driveway.  Sophie sees him and drags herself up the steps onto the deck, with her head and ears down, and rolls over on her back right at his feet.  She knows they're in trouble.  Greg takes her by the collar and they head out to the barn and Gibbs follows, jumping around like a kangaroo trying to get Greg to play with him.  He locks them in the barn and comes back in the house.  Everyone is safe and sound.

So, Sunday morning, we get up, head out to the vineyard to mess with the bird netting, and when we get back to the house I decide I'm going to give them both baths because they stink and they are covered with burs and muck from who-knows-where, and so forth.  I mean literally covered with thousands of little quasi-sandspur dealies, all tangled in their long fur. 

Here's where it gets ugly. 

Gibbs was the worst so I put him on his leash and took him out in the yard and gave him a bath, then dumped probably eight ounces of conditioner on him and let it sit for about five minutes, then proceeded to try to comb the burs out of his fur with a fine comb.  This worked okay but there were literally thousands of burs.  I abandoned the little comb, rinsed off the conditioner, and decided I would just trim the burs off with scissors.  Well, about 30 seconds into this, I almost amputated Gibbs' front leg.  Yep, I cut him with the scissors over his front left elbow where the loose skin of the armpit area (or whatever the dog equivalent to an armpit) is.  As soon as I did it I knew I'd cut him.  He flinched a little but didn't cry, and then just stood there staring at me with this pathetic look.  Well, immediately there was a huge gush of blood, and it was as bad as I'd feared.  It was a flap and when I lifted it, I could see his elbow joint.  Awful.  I grabbed him and took him over to the hose and washed the blood off and then picked him up (all 77 lbs of him) and ran to the garage, grabbed my Vet First Aid kit, and then hauled him and the kit up the stairs onto the deck.  I put him down (fortunately he was still on the leash) and opened the door and yelled for Greg to "get me a towel, Gibbs is hurt" and he came running with a big bath towel.  He asked what happened and I simply said "I cut Gibbs' leg with the scissors."  He responded "why'd you do that?" to which I had no explanation. 

I used the towel to stop the bleeding and then took a look at it.  It was a big gash, probably an inch and a half long, curved like a "C" and right over the elbow joint.  I doused it with peroxide, squeezed a big glob of Neosporin into it, mashed the flap down and wrapped the area with an Ace bandage. 

Then I started crying. 

I called the vet's emergency number and got the recording telling me to call another number.  Since the bleeding had stopped, I decided it was probably not necessary to drag the vet into the office to stitch up my dog, and decided to wait until the following morning.  Since he was still pretty much covered with burs, I decided to keep him up on the deck and work on removing them, and also keeping him from messing with the bandage and possibly making it start bleeding again.  I brushed him until he was dry and got probably 95% of the burs off of him, and then I brought him in the house (which I never do) and made him lay down next to my chair for a while.  After a bit, I took him out to the barn and locked him in there with Sophie and hoped for the best, as far as the bandage was concerned. 

Monday morning I called the vet's office.  Lisa, my regular vet, was there and said to bring him in right away.  When I got there, I told her what I'd done, and that if Gibbs was a child, I'd have already been visited by Child Protective Services.  She laughed and said "don't be so sure.  My sister accidentally cut my niece's Achilles tendon with a hoe while working in the garden and no one came out to investigate her fitness as a mother."   She recommended stitches and said to leave him with her.  She called at about 2:00 and said I could pick him up but I decided to leave him overnight just to give him a day off, and keep him reasonably clean.  I picked him up Tuesday morning and except for a stitched up elbow and a shaved upper leg, you'd never know there was a thing wrong with him. 

He's back to his normal self.  If the stitches are still there after 10 days, I'll take them out.   No more scissors.  My sister suggested I invest in a pair of clippers for occasions when I feel like playing Edward Scissorhands... 


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