From the moment I heard about Boots and Jax, I knew I had to have them. We were living on Crescent Heights in Los Angeles, and Jeffrey travelled almost as frequently as he does now. I was talking to my horse trainer and friend Gioia, and she suggested I get some canine companions. We talked about what breeds I would get, and settled on a chocolate lab and a beagle.
The next day, I got a rather excited call from Gioia: “Uh, hey, Melissa? What kind of dogs did you say you would want if you could get them?”
I could hear that I was on speaker phone and she was at a party. I repeated back what she already knew. There was a roar of “NO WAY!!! THAT’S CRAZY!!!!” and lots of laughing. As it turned out, Gioia met someone who asked her if she knew anyone who would be willing to adopt a chocolate lab and a beagle. Jeffrey was in Toronto, but I just couldn’t say no. I knew he would be the furthest thing from thrilled when he found out I’d brought two dogs home. Despite his initial displeasure, he got over it when he saw how happy Jax and Boots made me.
We’ve come a long way from the two overweight dogs who had no discipline, could never be let off leash, walk politely or wait patiently. BUT, they’re far from perfect.
Usually when they’re off leash, we use Dogtra shock collars to keep them in check and call them back. Two weeks ago, however, we had to send them in for repairs and are still waiting for their arrival. SO…..when yesterday rolled around, and I took Boots and Jax out to the garden with me they were a little more difficult to round up. They’ve been so well-behaved recently, that I didn’t think much about their howling on the other side of the lake. That is UNTIL I heard Boots bay – with the howl that he only lets out when he’s REALLY cornered something. I shot off toward the sound. It was then that I realized they were far away: REALLY far away. After jogging about a mile up the hill behind our house, I heard the barking get fiercer and then heard Boots scream. I figured he’d gotten bit by some critter he was trying to destroy, and started yelling at him to come. Suddenly, out stepped an older man clutching a terrified cat. He looked startled, and was beet red.
“ARE THOSE YOUR DOGS?!?!?” he shouted.
“I’m afraid they are, sir — well, that is if it’s a chocolate lab and a beagle you’re talking about.”
“YES! AND THEY NEARLY KILLED MY CAT!” he yelled.
“Oh dear! Did they actually catch her?”
“NO! But she was in a tree, and is old, so she could have died from fright.”
I apologized profusely and continued on through the blackberries toward the still barking dogs. I caught up with Jax first, then when I was just about to give up on thrashing through the thorns, I caught the damn beagle. I still had my garden apron on, so I unclipped it and joined the dogs’ collars together. After once again expressing my remorse for the behavior of my uncivilized dogs, I headed back down the hill – tugging the stinkers behind me.
Boots generally gets an adrenaline rush after an experience like that, and yesterday was no different. His face was swollen from what I thought was his allergy to blackberries, but he was still rearing to let his nose lead him to the millions of fun little animals running around the property. I was pissed though, so his pleas for freedom were completely ignored, and off they went into the garage.
When I woke this morning, and headed out to feed them, only Jax came to breakfast – that’s HIGHLY unusual. Boots, a typical beagle, is highly food-motivated. I called, but he didn’t come. Walking back to the bedroom, I heard an odd noise of pain. I looked at his bed, and there he lay, stiff, shaking, and obviously in a LOT of pain. I knew something was really wrong – he wouldn’t take a treat, table scraps, NOTHING. Luckily, Jake had spent the night, and I was able to rush down and wake him. He sat with Boots while I ran around throwing stuff together for the baby and heading out the door. We bundled Boots up and hit the road to meet the vet at the clinic.
Five minutes after the vet disappeared with the Buddha-Bear, he came out and asked, “Is there any way a horse or a person kicked him? He has a HUGE welt on his side.”
I knew Boots hadn’t been anywhere near the horses, so that was out of the question. My neighbor’s face flashed across my brain.
Oh my god. What happened before I got to the top of the hill yesterday? I don’t know. I don’t really know. What I do know is that Boots’ ribs are either broken or bruised (we didn’t take an x-ray since his breathing was fine). I can’t imagine anyone actually kicking a dog, especially with such force. I totally understand defending your own pet especially from intruding dogs, but if the pet wasn’t in the dogs MOUTH, was that kind of force really necessary!?!? Boots’ heart rate was sky high, and he was in so much pain, he didn’t even flinch when Dr. Fischer took his temperature (normally the entire neighborhood hears the scream). Boots ended up staying at the hospital all day, eventually feeling good enough to start barking if he was left alone.
I picked him up in the evening and was happy to see him walking, even if it wasn’t his normal skippy gait. I pulled into the driveway, leaving Ellie in the car seat. As I picked Boots up from the seat to put him onto the ground, he leapt from my arms. His body, however, isn’t working like it normally does, and he landed head first, then flopped onto his injured side. His body lay there motionless. He had lost consciousness. I grabbed him, shaking him, yelling his name until he opened his eyes. He was still, but aware, unwilling to move. I immediately called the vet, and as we talked, he got up shakily, and headed inside, laying down on the nearest carpeted floor he could find. The vet is having me keep an eye on him overnight, but I think he’s going to be ok.
Needless to say, it’s been a bit dramatic around here today!
All that aside, the last two days were actually pretty darn good! I visited with my brothers last night, played with my daughter, worked in the garden and enjoyed some GORGEOUS Oregon weather (despite what most of you think, we have lots of nice days here…and when it’s gorgeous, it’s unbeatable!). Here are some photos that DON’T have to do with Boots’ trauma!