Forever Artemis: it’s all fun & games until someone needs stitches

I was hiking with Charlotte and Watson (my neighbors’ dog and Charlotte’s best friend) the other day and saw another woman on the trail with her dog on a leash.  Charlotte and Watson were running up and down the trail, off the trail, back on the trail, chasing squirrels and generally having a good time.  I felt bad for the dog on the leash, and was thinking that the woman was probably trying to either do some training to keep the dog closer, or that the dog had done something to get in trouble and warrant being on a leash.

It was just at this point on the trail that I remembered having Artemis on the leash in that very same spot several years ago.  I felt really bad for Artemis, because Franklin was off leash and was roaming around (although he has never roamed far).  I needed to keep Artemis somewhat contained because she had a foot injury and, although I wanted to get her out and have her get some exercise, I didn’t want her to injure her foot further.

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Happy dogs in the High Sierra before getting turned around to go deal with injuries (they would have rather stayed and played in the water)

The injury happened when I was visiting a friend in California, and had been hiking with his dog (Vernon) and Franklin and Artemis in the Eastern Sierra.  I really wanted it to be a great hike and a great day, but we ended up cutting it short.  First, I noticed that Vernon got a fish hook through his ear.  Then, while we were hiking up the trail, Artemis developed a limp in one of her hind feet.  I noticed drops of blood on the rocks on the trail.

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Happy Artemis on the trail before her injury

“Oh, Boo Boo, what did you do?” I said to her when I caught up to her.  She had the biggest smile on her face which turned into a bit of a pout when I made her stop so that I could look at her foot.  She had a big gash near the main pad of her foot.  I decided to hike us back down to the car and take care of the dogs’ injuries.

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Vernon’s fish hook was dealt with quickly enough with a pair of wire cutters.  He handled it very well.

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Vernon’s fish hook

I didn’t really have anything to take care of Artemis’ injury, so I went to the general store in the tiny town where I was staying, and found some hydrogen peroxide and a sewing kit.  These items, along with the garden hose, would have to suffice.

I laid Artie down in the back yard and flushed the dirt and debris out of the cut in her foot with the hose.  Then I doused it a couple of times with hydrogen peroxide.  I rinsed it again with water (I was hoping the store would have some iodine, but I couldn’t find anything like that, and I certainly didn’t want to use rubbing alcohol because that would have been way to painful).  Then I set to work.

I threaded the sewing needle and hoped for the best.  With the first bite of skin that I took, Artemis’ head snapped up and she looked at me like, “What was that?  Something bit me!”  And I rubbed her ear and laid her head back down.  I got the needle through the next bit of skin and was able to tie off a knot.  I was only able to get one stitch through the wound, because the skin of her pad was just too tough to get the needle through.

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The gash (not bleeding) is right off the tip of my thumb and into the main pad

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Gash closed up, with red sewing thread

I put some Neosporin on the wound and wrapped it up with some gauze and tape, forming a little boot to protect the wound.

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Artemis:  all better!

She couldn’t go swimming for the next week (which is worse than getting stitches for a Golden Retriever!) and I kept her contained on the leash so that she wouldn’t rip the stitch out.  After a week, I clipped the stitch out of her foot and it was all healed up with no signs of infection.

Maybe it would have healed on its own without the stitch, but I always think deep cuts will heal better if you help them along a bit.  I was so amazed (but also not surprised) that Artemis tolerated me stitching up her foot without any kind of anesthesia.  Her pain tolerance was incredible and she was so trusting to let me help her in the way that I did.  I don’t know many other dogs who would let someone do that!

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