Angus’ latest problem manifested itself, as dog problems usually do, in the middle of the night.
He jumped off the bed and shook his head, hard. The tags on his collar jingled, waking us up. He shook his head again. Jingle, jingle. And again. Jingle, jingle.
“Ear infection,” I muttered into the pillow, and callously tried to go back to sleep. We’d been down this road before, with other dogs.
In the morning, we took a look. His left ear — the one that sticks straight out while the other ear crooks over the top of his head like a little umbrella — was bright red inside. Angus’ annual checkup was scheduled for three weeks out — did we really want to drag him to the vet twice? We decided to take care of it ourselves and have the vet look at it later.
We had a full bottle of ear wash and half a bottle of antibiotic drops left from last year when Rosie had the same problem. The medicine didn’t expire for another three months. We knew what to do.
Squirt the blue wash into the ear and wipe it out with a cotton ball. Then squirt six drops of the antibiotic fluid into the ear every day for 10 days.
Sounds easy enough, but Angus now weighs somewhere in the vicinity of 60 pounds and he does not like having his ears handled, especially when one of them hurts. This was a job for three.
Doug wrapped his arms around Angus, holding him close. Rosie danced around, getting under foot, no doubt glad she was not the one being squirted. And I took up the bottles and cotton balls, lifted the floppy ear, and hoped that my aim with a thrashing, miserable dog would be true.
By the end of the week we were nearly out of antibiotics but the ear was looking good. And then, a day later, not so good. Time to call the vet?
This was just one of the travails Angus has had to navigate so far in this dark and mostly snowless winter.
He came through the holidays unscathed, eating a mere two Christmas ornaments (chewing them, but not ingesting them) and refusing to wear a Santa hat for the annual photo. (Rosie obliged, but she wasn’t happy about it.)
He continued his annoying habit of barking at every house guest upon their arrival. Each time, he barked ferociously for five minutes, then settled down, becoming sweet and submissive for the rest of the visit. (One dog-loving and fearless guest looked slightly unnerved. “His bark is … impressive,” she said.)
Walks remained fraught. The squirrels that venture out in this weather are tough. They’ve seen dogs before, and they are not afraid. They skitter around and around the tree trunks, chasing each other, and Angus moans and shrieks and lunges toward them, and I have to pull him back and make him sit. Once he’s calm, we take a nice step and then he’s pulling again and I make him sit again. Some days it can take 15 minutes to walk one block. My arm is tired. My elbow might need physical therapy treatments.
One night he walked politely, and I was thrilled and foolishly let my guard down. Then he spotted a rabbit in a backyard and without warning dashed toward it, dragging me right into a hedge.
Poor guy. His ear was damp and aching, the sidewalk was icy, the rabbit remained out of reach, and he had not one, but possibly two vet appointments looming.
This winter, Angus thinks, is the pits. Or maybe it’s just me.