D. E. Larsen, DVM
Dixie opened the exam room door to check on Bill and Peanut Digger. We moved them into an exam room as soon as they came into the reception room.
Bill was a large man. He carried a few extra pounds on his massive frame, but his muscle mass had served him well in a lifetime of hard work. He was older, approaching retirement, and his hair, in a short crew cut, was graying.
Peanut Digger was a Brittany Spaniel. Brittanys are the most hyper of all the Spaniel breeds. And Peanut Digger was the most hyper example of a Brittany Spaniel that I knew. He bounced off the walls the entire time he was in the clinic. If they were left in the reception room, there was total chaos by the time they were called into an exam room.
Bill was totally aloft to the chaos. He would just sit there, arms folded across his chest and feet extended and crossed at the ankles. Peanut Digger would continuously circle the exam room. Jump up with his front feet on the counter to check out the items there. Tongue out and panting, with saliva dripping from the corners of his mouth.
Peanut Digger would only slightly slow down when placed on the exam table for an exam or treatment. He was a good dog, he was just absolutely unable to calm himself.
“You know, Bill, we might be able to calm this guy if we neutered him,” I said.
“Neuter him! No way, in fact, I am planning on raising a litter or two,” Bill replied. “I bought a female Brittany a couple of weeks ago. She is already in heat.”
“You might have your hands full with a bunch of puppies running around,” I said. “What are you going to do is you can’t get rid of them?”
“Brittanys are pretty popular dogs,” Bill said. “I don’t think I will have any problems.”
The next time I saw Peanut Digger, it was to sew up a gash on his muzzle. It was a typical scene when I entered the exam room, Bill seated in the chair, and Peanut Digger going nuts. We wrestled him onto the exam table, and I looked at a deep wound on the left side of his muzzle.
“They don’t get along so well,” Bill said. “I think she wasn’t quite ready for his attention. She sure surprised him, I hope it didn’t ruin their relationship.”
“This is a deep wound,” I said. “We will have to sedate Peanut Digger to get it cleaned up and closed. I don’t think he will hold still for it any other way.”
“I don’t think he will hold still for anything,” Bill said.
“If we are going to sedate him, I will make you a deal on a neuter,” I said, hoping that Bill would reconsider that option.
“Oh no, we are going to get this litter of pups even if we have to resort to artificial insemination,” Bill said.
Artificial insemination in the dog was one of my worst nightmares. The problem was collecting the semen from the dog. People requested the procedure, usually because they could not get the dogs to breed naturally. So then they bring them to a vet clinic, a real relaxing environment for most dogs, and expect someone to collect the male dog via some form of masturbation. In my experience, it just didn’t often work. And with Peanut Digger, I could not imagine getting it done.
“I don’t think AI would be an option with Peanut Digger,” I said. “We will sew up this wound, then you keep them apart. Put them together once or twice a day, with some supervision. Maybe have her on a leash. When she is finally accepting his advances, you breed them every other day for as long as she will accept him. That usually results in a pregnancy.”
It was no small feat, getting an IV catheter into Peanut Digger. But once that was done, sedating him was no problem. We gave him some IV Pentathol and some gas via a mask. I shaved the wound with a straight razor. Wound healing in animals requires a close shave of the wound edge. If you can do nothing else, shaving the wound will do a world of good. After scrubbing the wound, I closed the deep tissues with a continuous suture of Dexon and then sutured the skin with Nylon.
A couple of weeks later, Bill was back with Peanut Digger to get the sutures out. The wound had healed well, there will be no scar once the hair grows back. Trying to get the stitches out was something else again. Getting the hook of the suture scissors under a suture was little like hunting birds, you had to anticipate where his nose was going be because holding him still was impossible. But we got the job done.
“The wound is well healed,” I said. “Did you ever get him hooked up with his girlfriend?”
“Sure did, several times,” Bill said. “We should have pups in another 6 weeks or so.”
“Give me a call if you have problems,” I said. “Most of these dogs have puppies with no problems.”
It was a few months later when I noticed Bill’s name was in the last slot on the appointment book.
“I don’t know if I am up to Peanut Digger this afternoon,” I said to Dixie. “I am already worn out.”
“You’re in luck, it is the litter of puppies for vaccinations,” Dixie said. “That shouldn’t be any problem. But he said there were 7 puppies.”
I opened the exam room door to the most unbelievable commotion. There was Bill, seated in the chair as usual. And then there were seven Brittany pups, all males, running wild around the room. Seven male puppies, what are the odds of that. And every one of them was an exact replica of Peanut Digger.
Peanut Digger times 7, shouldn’t be any problem.
Photo by Anna Kimbell on Unsplash.