The other morning, something that sounded like, “Wooo! Ooooh!” woke me.
For a moment, I thought I’d just imagined it, so I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.
That did it. I climbed out of bed.
I traced the sound to Willow, one of my rottweilers. She was lying in her dog bed, her head resting on her front paws, and whining.
“What’s the matter, girl?” I asked her. “Are you in pain?”
“Woooo! Ooooh!” came the answer.
I touched her stomach, her sides, her legs, waiting to see if anything got a reaction, all the while knowing that if I did touch a really tender spot, I might end up missing a few fingertips. No body part I pressed seemed to affect her. Still, after I stopped, the howling and whining continued. Puzzled, I called the vet and was told to bring her in.
The minute we arrived at the vet’s, my howling, whining, lethargic dog turned into happy, playful Willow. She bounced into the waiting room, wagging and trying to play with every dog there. She’d never looked so healthy.
“And what seems to be the problem with Willow today?” the vet asked me.
“She’s in pain,” I said, as Willow ran over to her, wagged and licked her hand.
“Any idea where?” the vet asked.
I shook my head. “I sure wish dogs could talk, don’t you?”
She rolled her eyes and laughed. “God, no!”
She then gave Willow a thorough checkup. Only when she touched and looked into Willow’s ears did the “woooo” sound return.
Wouldn’t you know it, her ears were the only things I’d forgotten to touch during my pain-searching marathon that morning.
“Ah!” the vet said. “She has an ear infection. What’s in a dog’s ears is supposed to be the same color as what’s in our ears. Hers is black! The poor dog must have an earache.”
A culture showed that the black gunk was a yeast infection. The veterinary assistant flushed out Willow’s ears, and we were sent home with ear cleanser, eardrops and a bottle of tablets for pain and inflammation. I also was given a quick lesson in eardrop dispensing.
“Have Willow lean against you,” the vet said. “Then lift her ear flap, gently insert the nozzle down into the ear, squeeze the drops into it and then massage the base of her ears to make sure the medication gets evenly distributed.”
She made it sound so simple, I figured it would be a snap to do.
The next morning, I called Willow so I could administer the drops.
She came running and sat down in front of me. The minute I picked up the bottle, she dashed off and hid in the laundry room. I cornered her in there, then lifted the flap of her left ear and looked inside. That’s when I learned that a dog’s ear has about 25 more nooks and crannies than a human’s ear. The problem was, I had no idea into which nook or cranny I should shove the nozzle.
I poked around a bit until I found an ear hole. Then I tipped the bottle upside down. The nozzle on it looked about six inches long. The minute I put the tip of it into Willow’s ear, she went into an alligator roll, nearly knocking me over. I ended up squirting eardrops all over my pants.
So I took a new approach – bribery. As long as I kept feeding dog cookies to Willow, she let me put stuff into her ears. After I squeezed the drops, I massaged the base of each ear, as instructed, then said, “There you go, Willow! You’re all set now!”
She thanked me by violently shaking her head. Her ears looked like airplane propellers, she flapped them so hard. Everything that was in her ears came flying out everywhere...but mostly all over me.
“How does a dog get a yeast infection anyway?” my husband asked. “From eating too much bread?” He chuckled at his own words before adding, “What have you been feeding her? Dog Chow on toast?”
I’m not certain how she got the infection, or why Raven, our other rottweiler, who shares everything with her, didn’t get one...at least not yet.
And I’m praying she never does. Unlike Willow, Raven has the temperament of a lion with a thorn in its paw when it comes to tolerating any medical treatments. Trying to put drops into her ears would all but guarantee that my sleeves would end up looking as if I’d shoved them into a paper shredder.
Maybe, just to be prepared, I should invest in some really long tongs.