The other night I was woken by a familiar sound. Flap, flap, flap, jingle, jingle, jingle. Flap, flap, flap, jingle, jingle, jingle. Again and again, flap, flap, flap, jingle, jingle, jingle. This went on for about fifteen minutes, followed by a deep sigh and then silence. I was in the middle of such a deep sleep that I fell back asleep without investigating.
The following night I was awoken to the same sound, flap, flap, flap, jingle, jingle, jingle. Again I was so soundly asleep that I did not get up. I knew it was coming from our nine month old lab puppy but since it was not the sound of chewing or destruction I knew neither the puppy nor our possessions were in peril.
When I heard the sound during the day I instantly figured out what was going on. The flap, flap, flap was the sound of Jax shaking his head, and the jingle, jingle, jingle was the sound of the tags on his collar jingling as he scratched his head with his back foot. It had been two years since Babe had passed and even longer since we had a dog who could still scratch their head with a back foot. The sound I was hearing was the sound of an ear infection. Flap, flap, flap, jingle, jingle, jingle, all the while our Jax scratching his head trying to get some relief.
It was a Saturday and the vet closed in an hour. I tried to clean the ear but he had made it raw and open in spots and would not let me come near him with the cloth soaked in the cider vinegar and water solution that we now use instead of store-bought ear cleaner. I smelled the ear and knew instantly that it was not just dirty. After thirty-five years of Labradors as companions I can sniff out an ear infection like they can sniff out a bird.
Finally Monday came and we were able to take Jax in to see the doctor. Diagnosis: ear infection. Treatment: oral antibiotic and Panalog in the ear twice a day. Easy enough! After years of caring for senior dogs, giving physical therapy to our Bassett Hound and teaching her to walk again, dealing with tumor removals, teeth extractions, barium tests and elaborate pill schedules it was going to be a breeze to give some pills and a squirt of Panalog in each ear twice a day.
The pills went down without incident, helped along by a blob of peanut butter, or doggie crack as we like to call it. Jax is already familiar with the peanut butter blob masking his monthly heartworm pill, so he didn’t hesitate to gulp down his cephalexin capsules and then lick the spoon as clean as if it had come straight from the drawer.
He was trusting the first dose of Panalog. He sat politely on command and licked my face when I knelt down to pick up his ear to access the ear canal. I put the tip of the Panalog in his ear and gently squirted a pea sized drop.
Jax bolted and ran into the next room with speed that could rival a greyhound and threw himself on his dog sofa in a dramatic and violated manner. I swear I saw betrayal and distrust on his beautiful face. But I still had another ear to squirt.
“It’s ok sweetie, Momma is going to make your ears feel better” I told him. “Good boy, stay. Stay. Stay, good boy” I calmly told him, slowly walking toward him, bottle of Panalog behind my back.
As soon as I got near him he bolted, heading behind the kitchen table. I headed around the table to the left, he went to the right, I headed right, he went left, keeping the table between us. We did this multiple times until I grabbed a handful of treats. The first few treats were teasers, trying to win back his trust.
Finally he let me grab his collar. This was not how I wanted this to go down but I could tell he would not let me near his ear willingly. I tipped the bottle and carefully inserted it into his other ear, making soothing “it’s ok” sounds the whole time. As soon as I got close he threw himself to the ground, pitifully looking up at me, a puppy who had lost a battle of wills with his momma and who was going to end up with an ear full of medicine.
We have thirteen more days of this. By the time we are finished I may be qualified to participate in calf wrestling.