Labradors and Friends

Elizabethan Maggie

We don’t quite know what caused the itch that made Maggie so upset. First, she started to scratch, then she bit her tail. Very quickly, she’d chewed off some fur, and had a red, irritated spot. Maggie was miserable!

“Acute Hot Spot” was the vet’s diagnosis, which sounds very strange to those of us who had not experienced this before. I had seen over-the-counter meds at the store and knew it was a skin condition, but it sounded like something that would occur in July, not during the Winter! Antibiotics, steroids to stop the itch and an anti-itch powder made for a vet bill higher than a typical human “sick appointment.”

Finding the Elizabethan collar, better known these days as “Cone of Shame,” was an entire afternoon’s adventure, but it needed to be purchased immediately to prevent scratching and biting. The vet thought a senior dog such as 16-year old Maggie, would do much better in an inflatable collar, readily available at pet supply stores, but the office didn’t stock them. I went to the large store near me–inflatable collars started at $50 but the two styles of plastic cones were around $20. Easy choice: Ka-ching, Ka-ching! I tried the medium cone first, as Maggie is only 46 lb. but it would not fasten, due to Maggie’s thick Labrador neck, I tried the large next, which was only available in one model. It was the right size, but neither the clerk nor I could fasten its cheap clips. Back home to check on Dale, give the dogs a break and do some online research.

After Dale was happy and Maggie was somewhat happier (dogs do love food and being home), I found several pet supplies online, and I called the closest one. They had only cones for tiny dogs “but I can order it for you by Tuesday!” (That wasn’t happening.) I called PetCo nearby–they said they had plenty. A worker greeted me and offered help soon after I came in, gave practical advice on the collars. I noticed prices were generally lower than the other store and I joined their pet club for even more discounts.

Once I got home with her royal purple Elizabethan collar, it was time to get Queen Maggie dressed. She was not too happy about it, but she acquiesced. She stumbled over her lovely elongated collar a few times (they are sized to be longer than the dog’s snout), and thumped the cone flat on the floor a few times, but she figured it out. We took a car trip to Statesboro to see her doggie friend Ivy. Dale and Maggie and the cone shared the back seat. I believe Maggie bopped Dale with her Elizabethan collar a few times, whenever he got out of line or took up too much room. Big dogs like Dale do that.

The second night in Statesboro, Maggie decided she’d had enough sartorial majesty. At 3 a.m., she started walking around the house, banging the Elizabethan collar into every door, cabinet, table and bathtub she could find. That cone was going to come off. It did. We did not see her scratch or bite her tail again. It was beneath her dignity.

It’s been about six weeks, and Maggie’s health is restored, although her appetite is delicate these days. Her fur coat is as elegant as ever, and one must watch out for the swish of her little Labrador tail. She no longer wears the purple collar, but she’s still Queen Maggie!

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