The face cloth was moist and warm, folded so a flat spot could be pressed over the open draining wound. We were walking him when he noticed blood dripping down his back leg. Dogs rarely complain – being natural Buddhists choosing delight in the moment over a focus on their own suffering. He didn’t seem to be limping so we kept walking agreeing to check it later.
Once home, we shifted his frame to expose the underside of his belly and found a weeping hole on the inside of one leg. He was frightened and a bit jumpy, but he let us investigate perhaps using past experience to inform his sense of trust. It was warm and clearly painful – an oblong segment of raised skin had been licked raw and a hole exposed yellow liquid. Pressing gently nearby more yellow puss squeezed out which confirmed it as some kind of infection. Yet, with love, any quiet doubt needs attention.
“We need to call the vet. Let’s take him today.”
I heard the tension in his voice, but I had a hint of what it might be. I grabbed my phone and searched for images of abscesses. Squares of red and yellow, black and brown, skin and hair filled the screen. All manner of shapes appeared and it was difficult to decide if these represented the wound that we discovered on Duke, our three year old Standard Poodle. I read some descriptions from veterinarians on how to treat the area quickly grabbing some rubbing alcohol, gauze, and an antibiotic cream. I thought, he’ll just lick it off, but I put it on anyway thinking a moment of disinfection is better than nothing. Any quiet doubt needs action.
“When this happens in the wild, they just lick it to clean it, so maybe we should just leave it.”
I watched and listened to George’s voice as he swung back and forth between doing and not doing. He didn’t have dogs growing up so despite the past 20 years of experience, he still feels ill-equipped as an owner. Yet, then there is love. He loves Duke. And Duke loves him. His quiet doubt temporarily attended.