D. E. Larsen, DVM
Bite wounds have always been part of the hazards in veterinary medicine. Cat bites are the most serious because of infection, and dog bites are less infectious but more damaging.
Large dogs usually would tell you what they were thinking. If they were going to tear your hand off, they would make sure you knew it was coming. Small lap dogs would often bite without warning. And then there was the Chihuahua.
“You have Fang coming in this morning,” Sandy said as we organized the morning workload.
“Oh great,” I said. “Make sure you leave some extra time for us to deal with him.”
“With a name like that, you would think he was an ornery German Shepard,” Joleen said. “And I would take one of those over Fang any day.”
“He is just coming in for his vaccinations,” Sandy said. “Are you sure you need extra time for him?”
“Yes, once I get a hold of him, which isn’t easy, it takes me five minutes just to let go,” Joleen said.
It wasn’t long, and there was Bobbi seated in the reception room with Fang sitting on her lap. Bobbi stroked Fang’s head with trembling hands. Fang’s muzzle was wrinkled, and his lips were tensed to show his teeth. He knew where he was, and he didn’t like it one bit.
“What are we doing with Fang this morning?” I asked Bobbi as I came into the exam room.
“He needs his rabies vaccination,” Bobbi said. “I wished he would reach an age when he didn’t need those anymore.”
“It would be nice,” I said. “Especially when the vaccine probably protects Fang from the public health folks more than the disease these days.”
“What do you mean, Doctor?” Bobbi asked.
“If Fang would be in the house with a rabid bat, the public health people would require that he either be euthanatized or quarantined for 6 months,” I said. “It’s a lot easier to make sure he is vaccinated.”
“I see,” Bobbi said. “I wish it wasn’t such a chore with the little rascal.”
“We do, too,” Joleen said. “The vaccine is not the problem. The problem is getting a hold of him and then letting go.”
“I brought his chew toy today,” Bobbi said. “It might make it a little easier for you. Let him bite on it, maybe even play tug of war with him, and it might help.”
“I don’t know if Fang will want to play with us in this place,” I said.
“Give it a try,” Bobbi said. “You might be surprised.”
Bobbi gave the braided toy to Fang and placed him on the exam table.
“I’ll step out and leave you to do whatever is necessary,” Bobbi said.
Bobbi stepped out of the room and closed the door behind her. I grabbed the toy dangling from Fang’s mouth. For a second, he didn’t know if he should attack my hand or fight for the toy. I gave it a pull, and he pulled back. Joleen grabbed him by his neck with both hands.
“That worked pretty easy,” I said.
I gave Fang a quick once over and popped him with his rabies vaccine. Then I noticed the scars on each side of his chest.
“I haven’t noticed those before,” I said. “Probably because it was such a struggle to handle him before. I wonder what happened to him.”
“I still have to let go of him,” Joleen said as she continued her grip on his neck.
I grabbed the toy again and pulled. Fang instantly growled and shook his head, fighting for control of the toy.
Joleen released her grip and opened the exam room door. Bobbi swooped in and gathered Fang into her arms.
“This worked like a charm this time,” I said. “Maybe we learned something today.”
“I’m glad it made things easier,” Bobbi said. “He embarrasses me when he is so combative.”
“I hadn’t noticed those scars on his chest before,” I said. “What happened to him to get those.”
“That was an awful event,” Bobbi said. “It happened when we lived in California. Fang and I were walking back to the house after doing chores in the barn. This big chicken hawk came down and grabbed Fang right in front of me. It happened so fast I couldn’t do a thing. The hawk started flapping his wings to take off, and Fang bent around and grabbed him by the leg. The hawk lifted off the ground with Fang chewing on his leg. They were about ten feet off the ground when the hawk let go. There was Fang still hanging from his grip on the hawk’s leg. Fang finally let go and bounced when he hit the ground. The hawk took off, never to be seen again.”
“Maybe that is where Fang got his personality,” Joleen said.
“No, he was this way from day one,” Bobbi said. “I have given up trying to change his ways.”
“Well, at least we have figured out how to handle him here at the clinic,” I said. “You might think about bringing him by once in a while just for us to play tug of war. He might even learn to look forward to his visits.”
“I think you are dreaming, Doctor Larsen,” Bobbi said.
Photo by James Homans on Unsplash.