Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Cone of Shame

It only took a second. My black Lab, Chester, was chasing his beloved tennis ball in Golden Gate Park when another dog attacked him. The dog only connected with Chester for a second before the dog's breathless owner caught up and dragged him away.

After the attack, Chester paced around in a circle, a dark line of fur spiked along his back. He's a sensitive soul, and when he gets bullied he often hides his embarrassment by walking around and pretending he's doing something. To get his mind off the incident, I flung his tennis ball deep into the field. And then the most amazing thing happened. He didn’t move. He just sat there and watched the ball bounce over the grass.

That’s when I noticed the blood pouring down his leg. On closer inspection, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The soft skin of his belly had been torn open, exposing a wound deep into his body cavity. I mean, I could stick my fist through that hole.

At the emergency pet hospital, I burst through the door like a TV cliché: “Get a doctor out here now… my boy’s hurt bad!” The vet tech came out and started checking Chester's gums. I learned later that you check a dog’s vitals this way, but at the time I’m thinking, my dog’s got a gaping hole in him, and you’re looking for cavities? I point to the blood on my shirt and then to the giant hole in Chester’s belly, in case the tech missed it. “It’s down there -- see it? That huge, flapping hole? Doesn’t that need immediate attention?”

Turns out it didn’t. It was a big gnarly wound (her words), but it wasn’t life threatening. Six hours later, Chester came home with a tissue-glued wound, a fluid drain, and the Big Plastic Cone of Shame.

What, you may ask, became of the other dog and his owner? After the attack, I was so frantic, I wasn’t thinking straight; I was only concerned with getting Chester to the car. So I gave the guy my phone number, and didn’t take any of his information. He never called.

Now, I'd like to think that in my haste I gave him the wrong phone number. Why else wouldn’t I have heard from him? How could he watch his dog tear my dog open, and not call, if not to pay some of the vet bills, then to see if Chester was okay? If I remember correctly – and I see why victims of a crime make terrible eyewitnesses – the guy had a little boy with him. When his son asks later how the hurt dog is doing, what will he tell him?


  1. omg!! hope he gets better soon...I had no idea dogs could tear each other up like that! :(

  2. Saw him on Sunday and he was his sweet, playful self. Chester tried diverting our attention from oohing and awhing over adorable baby gifts. You could just see him pleading silently, "Won't somebody please take a second throw my ball?" Good to see him recovering so nicely.

  3. Sorry to hear about Chester's bad day! My dog Bodhi has been attacked twice...once as a 5 month old puppy. The girl promised she'd pay the vet bills...but never came through on it. The worst part was that Bodhi and I were traumatized by the whole thing for quite possibly 2 years. Hope Chester can go along with his happy-go-lucky-self and not worry about the next mean dog around the corner!

  4. Oh, poor puppy!

    My cat once had to wear the cone of shame and every time I see one on anybody's baby I get teary eyed.

    Get well soon Chester!

  5. Chester is a trooper and a champion of life. I am excited to hang with him in Fresno this weekend.