Faithful readers know how little I can trust Zeke off the leash. We keep thinking maybe if we try enough times, he’ll learn. So last Wednesday I gave it another try.
I have been working to locate exactly where our new house should go, and to figure out where to put the driveway. On Wednesday I loaded Zeke and Lucy into our side-by-side four-wheeler (it’s a Kawasaki Mule), and rode the few hundred feet to our new lot. It’s literally within sight of our current mailbox, but I take the Mule because I can’t carry a chainsaw, handsaw, axe, loppers, 300-foot tape measure and the rest on foot. As soon as we got to the center of the property, Lucy headed for home. She’s not the pioneer type.
I put a 12-foot leash on Zeke, figuring that if he wandered off, he would get tangled in the woods and couldn’t get far. I thought I could find him when he started barking for help. That worked for a while, but eventually he drifted off uphill into the woods. I didn’t worry much at first, since I really thought he couldn’t get far. After all, I had had to untangle him several times as we walked around. But he was gone, and he didn’t come when I called.
About an hour later I heard Leah calling from the street. We had spoken on the phone and I had told her that Zeke was loose, so she was watching for him on the way back from the dentist. She finally saw him lying in the woods near the front of our property. He limped when he came to her. I came down to the car and we found that he had nearly torn off his right dewclaw. Leah took him home and I packed up and followed.
As soon as I got home I phoned the vet, and they told me to bring him in right away. It was supper time for the dogs, so I offered him an animal cracker. He refused, which I attributed to pain. It turned out it was probably something else all together. It was almost exactly a year ago that Zeke got loose and gorged on something that looked like stew beef when he threw it up. This was a repeat.
Our vet is on the other side of town, about a half hour away. Zeke had started whimpering by the time I got him in the car, so his dewclaw must have been hurting. It certainly looked painful. The vet removed the nail but saved the nail bed; it should grow back. They had to sedate him to do it, so he was pretty groggy on the way back home. When I got him home, I found a double handful of meat that he had vomited up in the back seat. Fortunately he was lying on a canvas tarp, which caught all of it.
He ate a couple of dog biscuits and everything seemed OK. I took the dogs out at bedtime and nothing seemed amiss. About an hour after we went to bed, the sound of Zeke’s claws on the dining room tile woke us up. I put on some clothes and took him out. I was so sleepy I don’t even remember whether he did anything. We went back to sleep, and he woke us up again around 6, which is earlier than us old, retired people get up. I took him out again, and he relieved himself, I think. Before I could get back in bed, Zeke started making the “urk” that signifies that a dog is getting ready to vomit. He was standing in the middle of the bedroom carpet. I grabbed him and tossed him into the dining room, where he promptly threw up way more than another double handful of meat.
This was one of the worst messes I have ever seen, or smelled. I told Leah that if he had done it in the bedroom, we would have had to replace the carpet. The first time this happened I thought the meat he threw up looked too much like grocery store beef to be a wild animal that he had found or killed. But now I have to conclude that that’s exactly what it was. I have seen no sign of whatever it was.
Here’s the bottom line: Zeke’s dewclaw is not giving him any problems, he’s almost over whatever he ate, and he’s never going to wander free in the woods again.
Zeke is a gentle, affectionate, fairly obedient dog about 95 percent of the time, but I think that somewhere down inside, he has a streak of the wild, of the wolf. I probably wouldn’t have been surprised to find that out about a Doberman pinscher or maybe a German shepherd, but Zeke looks too goofy to have a wolf hidden inside. I mean, look at that face.
Is that the face of a relentless predator?
I couldn’t go back to sleep again after cleaning up Zeke’s mess, but at least I did get to see this from the deck.