Jack Russells aren't noted for short noses or quiet personalities. 10 days ago, Patch, started "horking." It's the only way to describe the sound, akin to an old man trying to (unsucessfully) "hawk" up some phlegm. (Apologies to old men.) The difference was that Patch couldn't breathe and the harder she tried, the worse it became. Her whole body heaved as she attempted to get air into her lungs. As the horking got worse, I panicked and 9:00 Monday morning a week ago, I was in the vet's office, Patch trembling in my iron grip. I didn't put her leash on; pulling at the collar could add to her discomfort. I feared the worse, heart disease, cardio-pulmonary problems, collapsed trachea. (Do not research symptoms and diagnose conditions via the internet.)
The vet actually saw her, without an appointment before she started her day of surgeries. Patch horked a little cooperatively and a look of recognition dawned on the vet's face. "It's rhinitis," she said. "It could be a little infection, inflammation from allergies, even an injury from breathing something in or swallowing something."
On went the muzzle, and Patch had her first set of nose drops. She does not appreciate anything that makes her uncomforable or nervous. Hence, the muzzle. Before long, we were on our way home with prescribed nose drops to be administered 4 times a day.
It wasn't a one person job. I held her on my knee, my husband put on the muzzle, and then with his hand covering her eyes, tipped her head until her nose was vertical. Drops released on target. We have done this faithfully, following the decreasing dosage and I am happy to say rhinitis seems to be in check.
Patch is 10 years old and I was so grateful for the vet's time and patience. Sunday is likely her last day of treatment and even though she knows the drops are helping, she occasionally snaps symbolically to signal that she is "allowing" us to treat her, not that she likes it.
You can see my dogs are small and I think cute, but I don't treat them like toys or purse dogs (the Jack Russell would be horrified). I take them for walks and encourage them to explore their wild side. Imagine my surprise to find how truly blunted their predatory instinct is.
Last summer we camped at Dillberry Lake. It's small but the camping and walking trails are great. My daughter and I took the dogs for a long walk down to the lakeshore, through the aspen mixed bush. There weren't a lot of people around so to foster their canine character, we let them run off leash. We weren't far from the camper when we heard piercing, terrified squealing. Something was in mortal danger and crying for its life. My dogs had somehow surrounded a ground squirrel who was lying flat on his back, in the middle of the gravelled path, screaming. This ordinary bush gopher was shrieking...loud. His eyes bulged and his little ineffective paws pointed skyward. How could one small gopher make so much noise? My intrepid predators stood on either side. Oh, no. Surely the Jack Russell, whose ancestors followed foxes into their dens to kill them at the end of the chase, would make short work of the pathetic screeching rodent. She might suffer a nasty bite herself. The ground squirrel was trapped and desperate.
It turns out he was pretty safe. Both dogs kept a respectful distance with noses pointed curiously toward the gopher, sniffing delicately As they watched him cautiously, we were able to grab their collars and bring the stand-off to an end. The poor rodent didn't realize at first that he had been rescued. Then his expression softened and changed. His face registered his good luck and then he rolled onto his feet and ran for the safety of underbrush.
We released the dogs and in a sudden display of hunting fervour, the Jack Russell bounded into the bush. There was a lot of crackling and rushing about but the gopher didn't make a second mistake. The hunt was over.
PS- this picture is a Columbian ground squirrel. I am not sure that it is the species of what I call the bush gopher but the expression is accurate.
I've been married a long time and often write about everyday events.