It’s been a rough ten days for the animals at our homestead.
Despite a wonderful influx of dearly loved human companions coming to visit in recent weeks, we’ve dealt with far more than our fair share of animal-based disasters. Perhaps it’s only because we simply have more creatures in our lives than most people, but it still feels like what we’ve been dealing with recently is well beyond normal.
Don’t believe me? I’ll list the total incidents we’ve dealt with and you can let me know if someone’s put a hex over our home or not.
As you might know from my previous post, we are in the process of fostering a mother dog and her five cute puppies. These little guys have been nothing but a joy in our lives and the easily the highlight of my entire month. However, adding six new creatures to one’s daily life is never without difficulty. One big problem is that Rosie, the stray-turned-mother, isn’t all that used to living a stable life. In fact, we recently learned what she was most likely subsisting on before she came our way: live chicken.
The problem started when I noticed some of our chickens had flown out of their coop and were happily scrounging around the yard. I failed to think anything of it because our birds escape all the time. Wendell and Aldo, our laid back puppies, are hardly bothered. Turns out Rosie is wired a little differently. I stepped out my front door a matter of minutes after seeing the birds to find the bloody carcass of one of them under our hemlock tree. There was no question it was beyond help. Immediately noticing the second chicken happily plucking by a nearby fence, I bee-lined over to quickly bring it back over the fence.
That was my mistake.
Rosie is a people pleasing kind of dog and rarely spends more than a few minutes away from my side. Unfortunately, this time I led her right to her next prey.
Long story short, the next five minutes were spent with a large stick in my hand, frantically trying to deter the single-minded pursuits of a dog ravenously tearing my poor bird apart limb from limb. I’ve seen plenty of large animal butcherings and cats playing with mice in my day, but nothing was as brutal as this bloody scene. Thankfully, it was all over in a matter of minutes.
Somehow, I managed to pull myself together enough after the carnage to grab the bodies of both birds and put them in our closed lid compost pile (assuming in the process that Rosie couldn’t get in) and continued onto my off-mountain errands. While it was truly horrible to watch one of our best layers get so savagely brutalized, I was a little proud of myself for how I calmly I dealt with the situation afterwards.
That feeling didn’t last past getting home. I opened the front door to find piles of feather scattered throughout our house. Turns out Rosie got into our compost bin just as easily as she caught the live chickens, and what little remained of the poor birds was now blowing through every crevice of our home. Was the chicken body in our bed?! There was no way to know…until Rosie dug up the head of one of the bird days later to show me just how skilled she was. Suffice to say, my screaming probably wasn’t the reaction she was looking for.
Did I mention Ian was gone for three days when this happened? It totally figures.
Losing chickens in such a violent way is never fun, but at least they don’t live in our home. Even worse was losing our dear cat Peak.
Within a day of moving the puppies outside into their new goat-barn-turned-home, we noticed Peak wasn’t moving as much as she normally does. It’s horrible to admit, but it took a long time to notice anything was off, because we attributed her aloofness to avoiding the six additional dogs in the house. After she napped for a full 24 hours, Ian took her to a vet who confirmed that something was truly wrong. A urinary tract infection diagnosis caused other puzzle pieces to come into place, like urine found in our bed a few weeks ago and puddles close, but not in the litter box.
Unfortunately, when we finally noticed her symptoms it was already too late. Within a matter of hours after visiting the vet, poor Peak lost her mobility, even her ability to stand, and began to meow piteously for hours on end. After what must have been a horribly painful process of organ shutdown, Peak passed away in the night.
Though she wasn’t really our cat (she came with the house as a mouser), Ian especially took her loss hard. It’s difficult not to feel responsible for her highly preventable death now that we have the hindsight to see her symptoms so clearly. However, at the time we were simply too distracted taking care of the puppies and keeping an overprotective mother dog away from our pets to notice anything amiss. And unfortunately, it’s now too late.
We lost three animals to highly preventable deaths within a week, but we weren’t over the worst of it yet. Bad things always come in threes, after all.
Sunday afternoon was a glorious sunny day, and we took advantage of it by going for a leisurely walk with good friends. On the way home, Ian noticed something funny going on with Rosie. Her teats were covered in blood, and every step caused droplets to spew out onto her thighs and the dirt road below.
It seems that she nicked a nipple on some barbed wire, and the cut went deep. So deep that my squeamish stomach couldn’t bear to look at it, and Ian’s emergency wound kit was completely useless. Worst of all, she still had five hungry puppies to feed, so we had no other option than to go into her pen and cover her injured nipple to prevent tiny baby teeth from tearing into her farther. Early Monday morning, a vet visit was scheduled to get her stitched up.
Now Rosie can’t be allowed within site of her babies for the next few weeks until her milk dries up, meaning we need to keep her confined in our summer kitchen. Incidentally, this is directly below my writing area, meaning I get to look forward to piteous whimpering and lots of scratching at the door for weeks on end.
But were we done with our misery? Of course not. Though my darling little Aldo was perfectly fine the entire night after Rosie’s injury and as happy as usual to go outside and play in the morning, he brought himself upstairs and hid under our bed before 8:30 am. It’s rare for him to be antisocial, but we ignored the warning signs until he refused to join us on a walk later in the day. By then, it was clear that something was really wrong.
Ian pulled him out from under the bed and quickly found the cause of his problem. A gash, over eight inches long along his back thigh, was open and bleeding. Though we’ve never had problems with barbed wire in the eighteen months we’ve lived here, it seems two of our dogs got grievously injured within 24 hours of each other in completely different parts of our property.
The poor boy couldn’t put any weight at all on his leg, and once we carefully placed him in his crate he couldn’t even handle sitting down (though he tried constantly). 3:45 couldn’t come soon enough for our now double vet visit, and Ian came back hours later with just one dog and hundreds of dollars more than expected in vet bills. Worst of all, Aldo’s injury was too severe to send him home right away, so he stayed at the office overnight to get dozens of stitches and staples put into his back thigh the next morning.
And that’s pretty much how the animal-side of our week went. Part of me wants to laugh at the ridiculousness of all this, but mostly I just want to cry.
Animals suck and I hate them all. I’ll never love another creature again…except for these stinking cute puppies. Somehow they still are managing to have a few (likely limited) positive attributes. I guess they can stay for a few more weeks.