Sleeping dogs, especially older ones, can be a bit cantankerous when wakened

Published 12:16 am Sunday, September 1, 2013

“Let sleeping dogs lie” is an old adage that contains a lot of truth. I found this out personally this week when I tried to wake one up and was bitten!

I had an early appointment to take our dog Sassy to the groomer, and unfortunately she likes to sleep late. Sassy is a little over 15 years old — an elderly lady in dog years — and can be downright ornery at times. Added to that, it is amazing how pets seem to know when something different is happening and also sense they are not going to like it.

Think about trying to get an unwilling small dog to come out from under a king-sized bed. That was my problem. She didn’t want to get up, and I wanted her to come out. The biting wasn’t exactly her fault. I knew she would bite if she were awakened suddenly as it frightens her. So I made sure she was fully awake. At least I thought she was!

I tried to coax her closer to me and she finally did move a little. When I thought she was fully awake, I stuck my hand under the bed and said sweetly, “Come on baby, it’s time to go outside.”

I didn’t touch her. It was obvious she either didn’t want to go outside or she wasn’t fully awake because she made a lunge and grabbed onto the middle finger of my left hand. It smarted! Naturally I yelled at her, and she growled back. I never yell at the two dogs, Sassy, and her little sister, Lola. They aren’t used to being talked to that way.

I suppose she realized I was really mad and she came out, looking awfully sheepish with that hangdog look on her face. She knew she had done wrong! Meanwhile blood was going everywhere, and I headed to the bathroom to wash out my wounds.

There was one little slit on the top of the finger and a pretty deep hole on the underside. She got me good!

I washed it out with antibacterial soap and put on some antibacterial ointment before covering both spots with a Band-Aid. By then I had managed to capture the unwilling little beast without incident and had her in the car. She tried to make up by nuzzling up to me, and I let her. I talked to her about the incident, and she listened. I think dogs really understand more than we think.

She is long-haired, and during the summer she has to have a haircut fairly often.  I usually take her for grooming one month, and I take Lola the next. Their haircuts cost more than mine! But I understand! I don’t have to be held down for mine, and I don’t get a flea bath!

These two belonged to our daughter who died last year and we have always been “papaw” and “mamaw” to them. She took such good care of her babies, and they are used to it. We have spent the last year getting used to having the two little critters with us all the time. There was an awful lot to learn.

We have not had pets on a regular basis for many years, and then we were much younger and had kids at home to help. We had to learn to “read” them to find out what they wanted.

Sassy gets what she wants by standing in front of one of us and staring until we get up and try to discover what she wants.

We had to get used to all the things to do for pets. For instance, they have to have their shots. Thankfully Sassy was up to date on hers!  They have to have flea treatments and heartworm medication on a monthly basis. Sassy also has to have a fluid pill twice a day because she has fluid around her lungs.

They have to be fed, and they have to be bathed like two little kids, only just not quite as often. It can get complicated for two elderly people who do well to remember to take their own medications!

When I was growing up we had dogs around the place, but they were outside dogs. Since they were also hunting dogs we didn’t get to play with them. So my knowledge about taking care of two little house dogs has been limited, but I’m learning! They really are sweet dogs that love us very much, and we have always loved our “grand-dogs.”

Meanwhile, I sit here trying to type without using my middle left finger because it is so very painful. Oh yes! It is very sore! The finger and the area of my hand below it swelled and turned blue and purple from the bruising, and it aches like a toothache.

I looked up treatment for dog bites on the Internet and found I was actually doing all the right things… washing it with antibiotic soap and using the salve. It is looking better and is not quite as sore anymore.

Believe me when I tell you I will not try to wake her up again. Lesson learned!  From now on I’ll let this particular sleeping dog lie as long as she likes!

PS: I ended up having to go to my doctor, who, after giving me “what-for” for not coming in sooner, gave me a shot, then sent me over to Riverside Medical Center for a tetanus booster. I then went to the drugstore to fill my prescription for antibiotics.

Another lesson learned: A dog bite is serious — don’t put off seeking medical attention.

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland, a resident of Pine, writes a weekly column and may be contacted at bobann_b @ yahoo. com.