Tuesday, January 04, 2011


My friend Jane's (http://five-minutes-of-fame.blogspot.com) cat Moggy isn't well.  Jane was telling me  about having to give Moggy tablets and Moggy's sneakiness in pretending to take it like a good girl then depositing the tablet later on her bed.  This story reminded me of a little whippet I used to own named Buffy.  I know, I know.  How does a person who loves St Bernards end up with a whippet instead?  Well, the usual way actually.  I rescued her from death (I tend to get a lot of pets that way).

Buffy was a tiny brindle whippet and a funny looking little thing.  She had a hair lip and buck teeth, but I thought she looked very pretty anyway.  She was graceful and dainty but could run like the wind.  I inherited her from neighbours who were going to have her put down rather than take her with them to New Zealand.  I also inherited their cat who was sold with the house, but preferred me to his new owners and moved in without an invitation to become a permanent member of the family.  

Unlike the cat Merlin (nee Puss), Buffy didn't take well to changing families.  She was convinced that I had stolen her from her beloved family and tried to run away a few times to the house in town her owners had rented after selling their house and before flying out to New Zealand.  Eventually Buffy realised they didn't want her any more and stopped getting even with me by chewing beyond repair one of each pair of my shoes.  Why Buffy targeted me as the one to punish I don't know.  She left Graeme's and the kids' shoes alone and only sought out mine, but after she realised home was now with me she became my devoted companion and a very loving little dog.  At the time we had Aasta, our Old English Sheepdog (a compromise between Graeme and me instead of a St Bernard) and Buffy and Aasta made a very strange looking pair.  They became great friends so Buffy always had a warm body to snuggle up to should she feel chilly, and being a skinny, practically hairless little dog she could feel chilly on even warm days.

In winter Buffy could be seen wearing the latest season's second hand baby jumpers I purchased from the local charity shop.  These didn't last long because Buffy loved to explore our properties and barbed wire fences often ended up wearing the jumper while Buffy returned home shivering and requesting a new jumper please. Luckily I kept a supply on hand.

Buffy often fought above her weight.  Well nearly everything she encountered was above her weight. but she was a fearless little defender of her property.  Aasta, a dog of peace, would leave her to it and wait back on the veranda for Buffy to come home from whatever battle she'd charged off to fight.  She hated foxes with a vengeance and the first sniff of one on her property would send her hurtling off in search of the intruder only to turn up later with an air of the returning hero along with cuts and scrapes that needed tending. All my scolding and good advice to leave the foxes to our bigger farm dogs fell on deaf ears.  Buffy had a mission to rid the world of foxes and that was all there was to it.

One thing Buffy didn't do was take tablets.  There was no two ways about it - she just didn't.  She lived her entire life without being wormed once.  Oh I'd tried.  I'd tried all the tricks in the book from pushing the tablets to the back of her throat, holding her little buck toothed face shut tight and stroking her throat to mixing a crushed tablet up in some fresh meat.  Nothing worked.  Buffy could go indefinitely without swallowing, the drool leaking out the side of her mouth, a wounded expression that I could do such a thing to her, planted on her face.  If I tried to block her nose in an effort to make her swallow before taking a gulp of air (as advised by a non-whippet owning friend) Buffy would just suck air in through her long muzzle and there was noway I could stop that.   She ate the meat around whole tablets and refused to eat meat with crushed tablets in them.  She'd give them a disdainful sniff or two, fix me with a stern stair and stalk off, the picture of hurt feelings.  I used to tell her if she contracted a fatal disease that only tablets could fix she was in trouble.

I thought that had happened one day.  Buffy had been coughing and choking for a day and obviously suffering a sore throat.  If she'd been human I was sure she'd have a hoarse voice.  I took her to our local vet who sadly preferred farm animals to spoiled pets.  He took one look at the little whippet standing on his examination table coughing gently - looking the picture of misery, and pronounced Buffy to be an obese whippet.  Buffy glared at him and was patently saying that no one asked him for his opinion.  I looked at the my whippet's tiny frame and asked where?  the vet pointed to her chest and said she was carrying too much weight.  Buffy gave him a disdainful look and I echoed it.  We both knew it was all muscle (well there was no way we could use the big boned excuse in this case).  After properly examining her, the vet said that she had trachyitis and she'd need to take tablets twice a day for a week.  I shook my head and told him she didn't take tablets.  He told me tablets were the only cure so she would just have to.  He suggested many of my tried and failed methods so I repeated that Buffy didn't take tablets.  The vet pooh-poohed this assertion and said I just needed to know how to do it.  I told him I tried all the ways he'd suggested and failed.  I even added a few methods I'd tried that he hadn't suggested.  He gave me a superior look and said he'd get a tablet down her.  He took a long syringe with a rubber thingy with a slit in the end to hold the tablet, popped the tablet in the slit and poked the rubber thingy right down Buffy's throat and pushed on the plunger.  Then he closed her mouth and waited until she swallowed.  Buffy appeared to swallow, assumed a defeated expression and he let her go.

"There," he said, "That's how you give a dog a tablet."

I looked suitably chastened and was just about to ask if I too could have one of those tablet dispenser thingies when Buffy got a thoughtful expression on her face, gave a ladylike cough and  deposited the tablet on the table.  She looked down at the tablet, I looked down at the tablet and the vet looked down at the tablet.  I could have sworn Buffy had a smirk on her face as she looked up at the vet.  I tried not to smile, but I don't think I managed very well.  I repeated, "She doesn't take tablets," just to rub it in.

The vet continued to look at the tablet like he couldn't believe it and said, "Well, what are we going to do now?"   I had no suggestions to offer, not being medically trained but assured him I'd prefer it if Buffy was cured of her condition (the sore throat condition that was - I had little hope of her non-taking of tablets condition ever being cured).  In the end he gave her an injection and said it wasn't as effective as the tablets but would have to do her.  On the way home I gave her a big pat and told her I was proud of her.  The vet had been so dismissive of my ability to treat a sick pet that he'd put my back up.  With one little cough Buffy had put him in his place.  

The injection worked well and Buffy made a full recovery.  The vet remembered her every time she visited after that. I can't say she was his favourite patient but they came to an understanding and he never again suggested a tablet as treatment.