Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Night of the Tail

It was a decidedly cold December night in the Phoenix valley. Having figured that, like ours, Mollie's blood had thinned after living in the desert and could no longer withstand cold temperatures, Garrett and I ventured out to buy her a sweater.

Mollie loves sweaters

I know that this is a relatively typical move, buying clothes for one’s pet. However. Mollie is a Lab. She isn't one of those tiny dogs you see being paraded around in foofoo outfits on the daily. In fact, up until our shopping trip, she had no clothes of her own.

But, you see, Mollie likes wearing clothes. Once, when I accidentally pulled Mollie’s bandana over her head in an attempt to make her jump on the bed, she stopped in her tracks and looked at me as if I had done the most horrible thing in the world. She then proceeded to stare at the limp bandana in my hand, which led to me staring at the limp bandana in my hand, and finally leading Garrett to stare at the limp bandana in my hand. Nobody moved. And then she walked into it, putting her head through the hole the knotted bandana created. Mollie put her bandana back on and all was well in the universe. We all let out our breath and relaxed once more. (See Mollie wearing said bandana below...)

In addition to bandanas, Mollie is also a fan of wearing t-shirts. Her whole demeanor changes; she gets calmer and acts kind of...cool.

One time, we put a pair of sunglasses on her during a car ride to a camping trip up north. They stayed on her face for a good 45 minutes until they fell off (after all, they were made to fit a human skull), and I swear for that 45 minutes she sat taller and prouder as she gazed at the mountains through the backseat window.
Naturally, we find Mollie's affinity for clothing and accessories to be hilarious. We started to feel a little guilty, though, that she didn't have anything of her own.

Fast forward to a trip to Petsmart on that chilly December evening. Surprisingly, there was an abundance of clothing for large dogs. This resulted in us spending way too much time picking out the perfect outfit. We ended up agreeing on a reindeer get-up, as ‘twas the season.
We drove home, excited to present her with our gift. Really, we couldn't wait to stretch the hood of the jacket over her head to don her with a set of antlers and a bright red nose.
Yes, we really like our dog.
And she really likes us too.
Mollie recognizes the beep of our car when we lock it. As soon as she hears this sound, she retrieves something (toy, sock, shoe, etc.) and holds it in her mouth until one of us comes through the door. Her tail wags so hard that her entire body wiggles. She wants to jump so badly but knows she's not supposed to, resulting in tiny hops up and down. She cries, she squeals, she barks. She gets really excited when we come home.
See? Told ya. Mollie really likes us.
Which brings me to the point of this story.
That night, like we'd always done, we got out of our car and hit the lock button twice, causing our car to emit a beep. As we walked up the pathway to our condo, we heard a loud crash. Garrett and I furrowed our brows at each other.
"What was that?" he asked.
"I hope it didn't come from inside," I said.
We unlocked our front door and out ran Mollie. Instead of staying inside and greeting us with her version of a present in mouth, she busted through the door and sat on the doorstep, wagging her tail. It was a bit unusual, but we thought little of it.
"Come inside, Mollie," Garrett called. He set her new reindeer outfit on the table.
It was dark, the lights were off. We turned the switch on and saw our full-length mirror lying flat on the ground.
"Oh no!” I exclaimed.  Bracing myself for broken glass, I lifted the mirror off of the ground. Miraculously, the mirror had not cracked one bit. Relieved, I propped it up against the wall. But then I noticed that there was something red on it. As I looked closer, there were a lot of tiny red dots speckled all over the glass.
"What the --?" and then it hit me. It was blood!
"Mollie, are you bleeding?" I asked.
To which she said, "Yes mom, I am." Just kidding. I know she can't answer me.
We pulled her into the light and found that a light splattering of blood had been sprayed all over her yellow-white coat.
"Jesus," I exclaimed in a panic, "where is it coming from? Where is all of this blood coming from?!"
And then we found it. The source of blood was coming from a cut at the very, very, very tip of Mollie's tail. It was a very, very, very tiny cut. Paper cut size, if you will. Not paper cut sized damage, however.
In the time that it took us to discover the blood on the mirror, see the blood on Mollie, investigate where in fact the blood was coming from, find the source, and move Mollie to a contained area, our condo became covered in blood. In about 60 seconds, blood was wagged onto the walls (somehow 7 feet high), our new suede couch, my beautiful leather purse, the hardwood floors, the now-standing fallen mirror, my recently purchased forest-green skinnies, the dining room table, the mirror above the dining room table, and all over my face.
Once in the confined space of the kitchen, we got her to lie down so I could clean the cut and bandage it as well as I could with the materials on hand. Materials on hand being paper towel, water, hydrogen peroxide, a ripped up Irish linen napkin, and scotch tape. I cursed my lack of proper first aid kit supplies. Eventually Mollie settled; we barricaded her in the kitchen with chairs, and I left to use the bathroom.
Silly me. Mollie wagged our makeshift bandage off as soon as she heard me walking back to the kitchen. Now, in a 10 second time frame, blood got all over the kitchen floor, fridge, cabinets, and walls...again, 7 feet high.
Our condo turned into a what could be murder scene.
I re-bandaged Mollie's tail and sat with her in the kitchen as Garrett ran to the store to grab gauze and medical tape. He got home 10 minutes later and we set out to bandaging her as best as we could.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a bandage on the tip of a wagging tail? We had to wrap it almost all the way up.
Do you know how to stop a Labrador from wagging their tail?
You can't.
How do you stop something from bleeding if that something won't stay still?
You can't. (We were not going to create a tourniquet on her tail.)
It made for a very long night. Between attempting to keep Mollie confined to the kitchen (she hates being away from us) and the four hours of cleaning that ensued, Garrett and I were worn out.
I took her into work the next morning (perks of working at a veterinary hospital!) to have them take a closer look at her tail. They had to shave it down, poor thing, to see the full size of the cut. I was right, it was pretty much a paper cut.
So not only did Mollie have a sore tail, she now had a shaved tail. And then she had to walk around wearing a bandange looking like this:

For three weeks. During those three weeks (all that wagging meant delayed healing), you could really hear Mollie coming. We had never realized how much her tail slapped against things as she walked.

Garrett and I also swear that her tail got stronger. She did support a few extra ounces of weight at the very tip of her tail for about twenty-one days. Even after the bandage came off she continued to wag with a renewed force. I'm sure that we now have newly developed wrinkles around our eyes from all of the wincing at the loud bangs of her tail hitting against hard surfaces.

Oh, and that reindeer outfit? We put it on her the next day.

Neon tail bandage? Check.

Super sweet reindeer jacket? Check.

I think that Mollie liked us a little bit less for the duration of her healing process.
Her tail never stopped wagging, though, so it was hard to tell.

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