To cut a long tail short

Our female English Pointer dog had had several false pregnancies but never any puppies. She was eleven years old and led a quiet, orderly life with gentle, daily         exercise. One Sunday, my husband and I were going out to lunch when I saw a bundle of fluff curled up on the pavement on the opposite side of the road, in front of our house. On passing by I said to myself “poor little thing if that puppy is still there when we return I am going to take it in and feed it”. Two hours later we returned and as I approached the little bundle moved, opened up its big black eyes. Foolishly, I picked it up and looked into those eyes and was lost! We took it home, fed it and watched the reaction with our Pointer, who gingerly walked around “it” and sniffed, tail rigidly pointing. Several hours later the two dogs must have decided that they quite liked each other because they were playing tug of war with a toy bone and that night went to bed curled up together.

The next day, after making enquiries about the abandoned female puppy, we encountered the owner who said he would be very pleased if we would keep her as she was the last of the litter and kept escaping through the fence. She is ninety percent wire haired Fox Terrier, ten percent mongrel, light brown and white colouring, with a docked tail, huge black eyes and about six weeks old. An ideal companion for Tara, the Pointer, with her unleashed motherly instincts, I thought. ‘Urchin’ became a member of the family. As we found her in the street, we decided to call her Urchin as she always seemed to look rather scruffy, even after a bath and, of course, was always getting into mischief as puppies do.

After a couple of months I realised I had inherited a handful, but the dogs became inseparable and Tara was playing like a puppy herself. One day, with an armful of washing I came out of the laundry where they were playing with a fir cone. As the cone rolled towards the door I was slamming it shut because it becomes terribly stiff in wet weather. In that second I heard one piercing almost human shriek and to my horror realised what had happened, I had caught Tara’s tail in the hinge side of the door! She started to run into the kitchen frantically wagging her tail, leaving behind a two-inch tip of tail in the doorframe. It was like a horror film and my kitchen began to look like a slaughterhouse. Although it only took seconds to catch her and try to stop the bleeding she wouldn’t stop wagging her tail. Finally I managed to cover the wound and ring the vet. She arrived and decided that it might heal itself, bandaged Tara’s tail and promised to come back the next day to check up on it. For a week the tail was dressed daily but it didn’t heal so an operation was performed to cut off another inch to allow stitches to be made.

Two weeks later the stitches were removed and the bandage put back on, to be changed every day. One day the Vet couldn’t come so I had to change the dressing myself. Not an easy task but I managed. The next morning I went to change the dressing again before the Vet came and                 discovered it wasn’t there. While I glanced around, Urchin the puppy was sitting on the doormat playing with what looked suspiciously like a small, dirty, rolled bandage. I leapt over to her but too late, she promptly swallowed it. Once again I phoned the vet who told me not to worry, ‘nature would take its course’ and the bandage would be eliminated. If not, things could become rather serious if the bandage unrolled itself in the puppy’s stomach. No such luck, nature seemed unwilling to co-operate. Two days passed and still no sign of it as I religiously, regularly, scoured our pocket sized lawn. So as a last resort I gave the puppy an enema. The following morning, there in one corner of the lawn I discovered a perfect, if somewhat grubby, rolled bandage.

To cut a long tale short, Tara, I think, is now the only English Pointer in São Paulo with a tail three inches too short but she doesn’t seem to mind and proudly quarters and points to the birds who dare come into the garden. Urchin brings up the rear and unfortunately has a much better record at the tender age of one; a catch of four birds, and she doesn’t even have a tail to speak of!

Jennifer Lima