Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Things I Never Thought I Would Need to Learn...

It's been a pretty hectic couple of weeks, allowing for both the start of a "Grand Adventure" where I might hit a few of my "bucket list" type of things, as well as quiet reflection. Mostly though, it means I've ignored my blog while I paid attention to a lot of other things....

Like processing some of the things I never thought I'd need to learn, or ever thought I would do. Like figuring out how to remove blood stains.

Yeah, you read that right. And yeah, it's a good story.

I am presently on a bit of a "Grand Adventure" and "Solo Sabbatical" all wrapped into one. Mostly it means I departed Murphy's Cabin and am on a long meandering road trip. I've always believed road trips were good for the soul -- not to mention I clearly have it in my genes as my mother never seemed to NOT be on one or planning one.

So the night before I was planning to start this Grand Adventure, I let the dogs out for their usual last-of-the-day potty breaks, with strict instructions that it had to be relatively brief as we needed to get up early the next morning.

An hour passes, and I got nothin'. Which, while this may seem like a "duh" moment towards me, was actually surprising: the past several weeks the dogs had been going out for their last potty break and returning within a half an hour. And with no stolen toys in sight either! (A good thing considering my "Brown Eyed Thief".)

Yet the one night where the timing and length matter? They ignore me. I start grumbling -- something about "kids these days" and "damn teenagers" -- and decide to go upstairs and get ready for bed. If they want to stay out late, fine. But I need my beauty rest.

~ snort ~

Just before midnight, as I'm upstairs following my usual night-time routine, Hollow shows up. I interrogate her about where her brother is, to no avail. I go back upstairs and continue my routine.

Just as I decide to go ahead and get in to my pajamas, about half an hour later, I see the outside sensor light come on. I start grumbling -- something about "damn dog" and "I'll teach him a thing or two" -- and holding my pjs to cover my chest, lean over the stair railing to check the front door and see if it is indeed Rilke.

It is. Completely covered in blood. As if someone had gripped his back and dipped him in a pool full of it. It's awful, it's frightening, and oh -- did I mention I don't do blood?

Last time someone got hurt, and was bleeding profusely, I almost fainted while trying to bandage it. Because that's really useful and productive.

I drop everything and race down the stairs, and outside. Oh my god. My first thought: did something attack him? My second thought: did he attack something? My third thought: Oh my god there is so much blood....

I check him quickly, and I can't tell where the blood is coming from. I grab him up, somehow get the door open again and rush him inside to the kitchen sink. I start trying to rinse him down to figure out the extent of the injuries.

As the thing is? When there is no one else to do anything -- to cover for you -- to pick up the slack -- to save the day -- you have no choice but to suck it up.

And let me be honest, it was a pretty brutal and crazy scene. As yes, if you caught it earlier, I'm now half naked, covered in blood, half sobbing, half sternly telling Rilke to not move just let me do my job, using a kitchen faucet hose to rinse down a blood covered dog. There is blood all over him, all over me, all over the floor in a trail from the front door, and all over my deck by the door.

Yeah, it was fun. A write home to mother or father kind of moment.

I finally get most of the blood off of him so that I can ascertain he has a huge gash in the bottom of his right rear paw. It's flowing heavily though, so as I rinse blood down the drain, the sink just fills up again. I finally grab the phone and call the vet.

Horribly for me, being in a more rural area, the vet's office is NOT open 24 hours and there is no automatic "forward" on their phones to an on-call vet. Instead, there is a phone number on the recording, which directs you to a different vet's office. Then on that recording? There is another phone number directing you to the cell phone number of the vet who is on call. After several minutes of fumbling, trying to dial numbers, and then new numbers, I get through to leave a message.

So at 1 am, I am standing in my kitchen, covered in blood, sobbing, trying to hold a shaking and bleeding dog still and in the sink while also trying to apply a paper towel with pressure onto his wound, holding a phone and hoping it will ring. Ring Dammit! Ring!

It finally does. After much discussion, the vet tells me he thinks I should be fine to simply bandage the wound myself to get the bleeding to stop, and to wait until the morning. Easier said then done of course.

I hang up the phone, try to clean myself off while still applying pressure to the wound, then tell Rilke to "stay" while I run upstairs to fetch the bandages. Half way up the stairs, I hear a thump, know he's jumped out of the sink, yell at him, grab the bandages, grab a t-shirt and race back down.

Fresh blood is now mixing with the already dried blood on my kitchen floor. I scoop him up again (as much as one can scoop a nearly 40 lb dog) and throw him back in the sink. I put the t-shirt on, rinse him again, and realize a bath would probably be a good idea.

So I race back upstairs (yelling "Stay! Stay" the entire time) and grab the dog shampoo. The bleeding, which has slowed, of course starts up again during my attempt at a bath. But suffice it to say that I eventually got him bathed, dried without too much blood continuing to flow and spatter, and then bandaged up.

He's been shaking the entire time -- I'm not entirely sure if it was pain or fear, as both seemed to be registering on his face -- and his big brown eyes are as wide as saucers. I carry him to bed, lay him down and spend the entire night half awake, with one hand on his chest in the hopes that if he suddenly stops breathing, I'll sense it.

Beauty rest indeed.

Needless to say, an early vet visit and drop off for surgery to fix his pad and apply stitches later, I'm back at the cabin, trying to pack the car up, and wondering how to get blood stains up.

And wondering how I ever found myself needing to wonder about that information.....

A bucket of bleach and water and some hard scrubbing later, I now have dark brown stains on the deck "wood" (it's a Trex deck), where the sun dried the blood deep into the boards while we were at the vet. It appears bleach does not handle blood quite the way one is lead to believe from watching hours upon hours of crime shows.

I hesitate, but ultimately decide against warning the handy man or cleaning lady I have hired to clean the cabin after I've departed so a friend may use it during my trip. Maybe they'll freak out, maybe they just won't notice. I decide ignorance is the best policy.

And bloody water thrown away, and brush cleaned, I put Hollow and the last of my things in the car, and head to go pick up Rilke and start our Grand Adventure.

Not exactly an auspicious start. And not exactly something that I had on my bucket list. But I have at least learned what does not work when trying to remove sun-baked blood from a Trex deck....

And that's something.

UPDATE:  A friend reminded me that now is a good place to highlight to people you can take first aid classes for your pet, both dog and cat -- and order manuals to have at home. The Red Cross happens to offer both, but there are many other options, and they are worth exploring.... 

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