We were collecting ourselves to return to faraway suburbia after our most recent visit to Roundrock when I noticed these drops of blood on the shady porch floor. I knew I wasn’t bleeding, and Libby reported the same. Queequeg is too cool to do something like bleed. That left Flike.
We had been playing throw the stick/keep away for a while. I throw it down the road as far as I can, and he chases it, snatching it from the gravel or leaf litter to bring it almost within reaching distance when he will then whip it about (as though trying to break the stick’s neck) and threaten my knee caps for a while. Eventually, he will drop it for me to pick up and throw and repeat the nonsense again. He seems to like it.
His play is so vigorous (really, when do they stop being puppies?) that he will sometimes draw blood from his gums, which is what I assumed had happened when I saw the two drops of blood on the porch. But then I looked further and saw other drops. Many drops. We examined his mouth but found no wounds; all he oozed was saliva. Whence the blood then? As he walked around, he left more blood, and I quickly realized that his paw was bleeding (back, passenger side).
When he lunges for the thrown stick, he will often slide toward it (don’t even ask about the grass in my back yard). My guess is that in one of his sliding stops, he cut the pad of his paw on a sharp rock. I don’t know when this happened. We were playing for at least 20 minutes, and when I stopped, he was ready to keep going. He wasn’t limping after we stopped.
Libby — who is at her very best when she is caring for another — quickly subdued him and examined his paw. The center pad was cut deeply. He didn’t seem to notice or care, but we worried that this was an avenue for infection. This had actually happened to him before when he was (more of) a puppy. Adam had taken him to a park with some friends and threw a stick for him. The park had paths paved with chipped wood. When Flike came home, tired but smiling, we found that the skin on the pads of several of his paws was lifted away. A trip to the vet proved anticlimatic. The vet said that, yep, this happens to playful dogs. Nothing to worry about unless he starts limping.
We hoped the same was the case this time, but the cut was deep. Libby restrained him while I scoured the cabin for something in the way of a bandage. We have a couple boxes of Band-Aids and a tube of antiseptic ointment, but Libby didn’t think the former would stay on his foot for long and didn’t think that latter was right for such a deep cut. So I foraged further. I managed to find a scrap of cotton cloth (what was that doing there?) that Libby could use as a bandage, but we had none of the rubber bands that she said she needed to hold it in place. As I poked about further, Libby solved the problem. She removed the lace from her boot to tie (gently) about Flike’s paw to hold the wrapping in place.
Flike is generally oblivious to scolding or forgives it quickly. This time, however, he seemed to know something was different. We hadn’t scolded him, but we were treating him differently. As I said, we were preparing to leave anyway, so I lead him to the truck and bid him jump in the back seat. He had no trouble doing this, but his entire manner was subdued. I spent a lot of time assuring him he was a good boy, and he was, but I’m not sure he was convinced.
We finished packing up and closing up and then began the long drive home. Flike spent much of that time apparently trying to get comfortable in that spacious back seat. He would settle but not stay that way for long before he rose to hang his head for twenty miles or so. And thus it repeated for the entire drive.
When we got home (and unpacked and put away), we examined his paw again. The bandage was soaked with blood. Flike was still subdued, but I think it was more about our odd treatment of him than from any pain. He still wasn’t limping. Libby, now with her well-stocked supply of first aid goodies, got to work. She wiped the cut with several applications of peroxide then put a clean bandage in place. Flike moped in his kennel for the evening but didn’t seem to be in any pain.
We have changed the bandage daily after that, and he doesn’t seem to be bothered by it at all. He’s his usual puppy-like self. We talked about taking him to the vet, but that doesn’t seem to be needed.