September 19, 2014
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Ice can be nice
This Side Up

It made sense, but I couldn’t imagine I would be spending Father’s Day doing what Carol suggested.

“You can’t write about this,” she insisted.

“It’s too extraordinary,” I countered. “How many people have been asked to do this on Father’s day?”

“Well,” she relented, “you can’t write about it until it’s over.”

I agreed.

Then Carol started laughing over the image of what we both would be doing. I must admit the picture was comical.

“You said ice, right?” I asked.

“That’s what the vet said, although it could probably be one of those blue ice packs.”

We had a couple of the freeze packs in the freezer, which usually found a home in an insulated bag for drinks and nibbles for a long trip … like driving to Narragansett. After Father’s Day I would never think of the packs the same way, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our newest family member, a spotted coonhound named Ollie, as you might have guessed from reading this column, is linked to the ice packs.

The story starts in February when Ollie left the care of the East Greenwich Animal Protection League – he was liberated from a kill shelter in North Carolina – and officially became a member of our household. He was docile, almost lethargic. Ollie had heartworm and the treatments between shots and medication that Carol wrapped in slices of turkey left him rung out. It also put Carol through the ringer. Ollie was not to overexert himself, as that could kill him. Ollie was on a leash whether in or outside. The exceptions were his crate and outdoor pen.

As the dosages tapered off, Ollie found his energy and keeping him subdued became more challenging. He wanted to run even if it was just up and down stairs or to play with a knotted rope that he loves chewing, shaking wildly and tossing into the air.

Finally the vet gave us clearance for increased levels of activity and Ollie reveled in his newfound freedom. We let him loose in the yard, which worked until he learned he could jump off the seawall and explore the neighborhood.

But Ollie wasn’t finished with his visits to the vet. And we reasoned the next procedure – neutering – may even make him more manageable. The procedure was performed about a month ago, with Ollie coming home that evening. He was groggy and seemingly unaware of what had transpired. The vet had made a neat incision, leaving the sack but taking the jewels.

We were warned he couldn’t lick the incision until it healed and the sutures dissolved. That meant Ollie wore a collar, making him look like an Elizabethan; in place of ruffles was a white plastic cone. Amazingly, he didn’t seem to mind. He banged around the house, frequently hitting the backs of our legs.

We’d take the collar off periodically and, soon enough, Ollie would check everything out, starting at the collar. Then the collar went back on. After a week, it looked as if things had healed and we were ready to put the collar away.

Then, to our surprise, the sack became enlarged. Had they grown back?

“This is impossible,” said Carol.

I thought it was great and said so. We wouldn’t have to worry. He would think they’re still there and he wouldn’t have psychiatric trauma. Carol didn’t think that was funny.

She called the vet immediately and, by the following morning, he had been examined.

The diagnosis was swelling by blood and the treatment was ice.

Carol wondered how this was going to work, but the vet assured her it shouldn’t be a problem. She waited for me to get home before getting out the blue ice pack and wrapping it in a pillowcase on the premise we didn’t want to shock him with an instant chill.

Ollie rolled on his back, as he usually does when we rub his tummy. I slid the ice pack into place. Carol cradled his head. He didn’t mind. We waited for the cold to seep in. I noticed my hand was cold, so surely it was reaching him, too. After five minutes we figured it was time for a break. Ollie wasn’t in the least interested. He sauntered to his bowl for a drink.

Later that evening, we gave him another treatment. The swelling was going down. By the third day, he was back to normal.

Well, almost.

Ollie has always been attentive when we open the fridge.

Now he’s just as alert when we open the freezer.


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