By July 17, 2012 Read More →

Story: Tucker the Terrier, Temporarily Tethered

Poor Tucker.

He hurt his paw this past weekend. Nothing major, really. And not that much of a surprise, either. That boy takes off like a bat out of Hades when he’s in the yard and released from his leash. Or when he sees a little critter that needs to be chased. (Hint: ALL little critters need to be chased.) Tucker goes zooming through the yard, oblivious to any obstacle and barreling through bushes, all intent and intensity.  SO, it’s not wonder that he hurts himself often. At least once a week, I’ll be petting him and discover a new scab.

This past Saturday morning, when I called the dogs onto the deck after their morning speed constitutional in the yard, I noticed Tucker chittering. I’m sure there’s a scientific name for the behavior; it’s when a dog makes fast little chattery noises with his or her mouth. Usually it’s a behavior that I see in Lilah–and it’s nearly always done when she’s in Dr. Lilah mode and inspecting an injury or problem with one of the boys.  I’ve never seen Tucker do it. So he’s standing there looking sorrowful and chittering and I knew something was wrong.

A bee sting? Wouldn’t be out of the question, since Mr. Inquisitive sticks his nose in everybody’s business.

Ate something bad? Also a possibility, since he’s an Eat First and Ask Questions Later kind of dude.

Then he looked at his back left leg, started chittering harder…and I noticed the blood.

Ah. That would be the problem.

So we all trooped indoors where I sat Tucker down to examine the injury. A puncture wound. Really, it was almost nothing. About the size of a pencil eraser. But it looked kind of deep. And it gaped a bit. Poor baby.

By 10:30 AM we were on our way to the vet. Tucker is such a good boy, he let the tech shave his foot and wash the wound with nary a peep. Though after she left, he hid under the chair. When the vet came it, Tucker allowed himself to be coaxed out with a few treats.

The vet put some antibiotic cream on his paw and closed the wound with a single surgical staple. Then, she bandaged it so Tucker wouldn’t lick and worry at it.

And then she gave us a Cone. Because Tucker just had to get at his foot.

Thus began our weekend.

At first Tucker was quite depressed about The Cone. As every dog who has ever had to wear one, Tucker discovered that it isn’t so easy to walk through doorways or up or down stairs. And don’t even try to crawl under a table. And the humans in the house had to be reminded not to walk in front of a dog wearing a Cone; all you need is to get shoved in the back of the legs with the sharp circle edge just once and you won’t want to repeat the experience.

Tucker when he first came home. Bandaged paw. Sad face.


Lilah gave Tucker a complete inspection, and then tried to lick his ears. That’s Dr. Lilah’s treatment for anything that ails her furry family. Jasper, on the other hand…er, paw…was terrified of Tucker’s Cone. Jasper squished himself next to me, and as far from Tucker as he could get. One would think that Jasper was just being a Silly Scared Princess. But I completely understood where the poor Moose was coming from: the last time he had to wear a cone, he was in excruciating pain and had to stay in the hospital for a few days. (You can read about his trials in two posts: Spoiler Alert: Jasper is Okay and Patient Jasper.) I bet the sound and smell of The Cone brought it all back. Poor Jasper.

However, by the end of the weekend, Jasper was able to stand next to Tucker, and even Touch the Cone with His Nose. Very Brave Jasper.

Brave Jasper

As for Tucker, he adapted to The Cone amazingly fast. The first time I took him outside, I let him off his leash in the backyard, thinking the combination of cone and bandage would slow him down.

That was a mistake.  The boy charged around the yard at near-warp speed, catching bits of shredded plant in his cone.

Cone can’t stop a terrier.

Tucker takes a break. Notice the plant bits caught on the right side of the cone.

After that, Tucker was only allowed outside while leashed. Even then, by Saturday evening, as we attempted to relax in the family room, Tucker had figured out how to pick up a Ball–as encumbered as he was. And then he learned how to throw it at me, over the rim of The Cone. And even used The Cone to help catch The Ball or scoop it up. And no matter how insistent he was (and he really was Insistent), I wasn’t going to throw the ball down the hall as usual for him. I want him to heal. Instead, I gently rolled it a few feet or tossed it for him to catch without running. That wasn’t really satisfying to Tucker the Terrier. But it was all I was offering.

Got to Play Ball!
Using his paw to push The Ball under The Cone.
A new technique: rolling The Ball down The Cone.

By the end of the day, Tucker had the Cone thing completely figured out. In fact, he had it down so well that he managed to get his snout around it and in a few short moments had unraveled a good chunk of the bandage.

Back to square one, I had to put more topical antibiotics on the wound and re-wrap it.

And fit Tucker with an even larger cone. One that we had used for Jasper when he outsmarted his smaller cone.

Now the only time The Cone comes off is for dinner, but afterwards, it has to go back on. Tucker is already so used to the routine that I can just hold out The Cone and he’ll put his head in. Grudgingly, but I don’t even have to ask him. Tucker has just accepted that This is the Way Things Are.  That’s such a dog thing. To just accept what he’s been dealt and learn to deal with it. Wish I could do that half as well.

So, while it may seem really sad that Tucker has a been injured and has to wear a cone, he’s really okay with it. Particularly since he seems to be getting more treats and a lot more pets and snuggles as he plays on everyone’s sympathy.

In the morning, Tucker relaxes on his–our–bed.

He’ll get better soon, I’m sure. The Cone will come off. And Tucker will continue to run around the yard and get hurt now and again–just like certain other terrier we all knew and loved: Rosie. And that very terrier-ness, that intensity, that ability to figure out a puzzle because you Really Want Something, that playfulness and that acceptance of What Is, will continue to define our Tucker.

Tucker, with his cone, picking up signals from one of the Mars Rovers.

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