The hotel as three dogs … two Blue Heelers and one Roo dog. I consider the Blue Heelers my friends, but Tigger the Roo dog is too tall, jumps up and at the moment is trying for the 'top dog' position'. Whenever the boss is away for a few days there are growling matches that go well into the night, barking and yapping sessions that disturb our sleep and cause rumblings of discontent. Wombat, slow, fat and the undisputed leader of the pack, has to be on constant guard if he is to keep his leadership. At the moment he is winning, but unless a new home is found for Tigger his seniority may drop. We offer Tigger to anyone remarks upon his size, or in fact anyone who even notices him.
The third dog is Bear, also a Blue Heeler, but younger than Wombat, though older than Tigger. Bear had little confidence in his ability to be a pack member and whenever the fights began he would seek shelter from the warmongers in the corridor, or hide in the deep recess of a storeroom doorway. Bear dislikes the brawling and makes every effort to remain neutral.
Bear suffered from a skin irritation that had him scratching endlessly. From the far end of the kitchen I would hear the rattle of his collars [he wears two … it seems to be a fashion statement] as he tried in vain to vanquish the foe. Bathing did not help, powders designed to kill tics and fleas only added to his distress. There seemed to easy cure and a visit to the Vet was inevitable.
One Sunday morning Bear was taken to the surgery. A diagnosis was made … I never enquired as to the results. There was a cure! A plastic bag of blue pills to be taken twice daily for one week, once a day for the second week, and from then on, one every second day. As so often happens when there is a task to be done the boss is away. This time I was seconded to look after Bear. After all wasn't I the one who patted the dogs or talked to them, or both, every time I went out the back door. There was method in this … to be high on the resident dogs' list of friends is preferable to being high on their list of enemies. Our dogs have certain dislikes and to show that dislike a nip of ankles, or any other bare part of the body, gives their dislike a tangible meaning.
How to persuade Bear to take the pills posed a small problem, for a moment or two. While I think they are lovely and friendly I baulked at laying the little blue pill on my hand and offering it to him 'naked' [so to say]. We hear Oprah talking of a light bulb moment, and while she doesn't necessarily mean in the context of giving a dog a pill, the significance is similar. I had a light bulb moment. In the dim recesses of my mind a thought shone forth … hide the pill in a palatable treat! I determined the treat should remain the same for the entire course of blue pills, which of course cut down on the alternatives.
A piece of ham might serve the purpose. We buy ham in bulk and there is always plenty available as in reality I am the only one who uses it, and that is for the guys' lunches … that they call cribs, and I have no idea why. However, I digress.
In the first week I cut a hunk of ham … hardly a slice as it was reasonably thick … and with a sharp knife inserted a tiny pocket in the thickest part. Into that pocket I slipped the pill. If one was decorating, the colour scheme of a rather pretty blue almost the shade of a Jacaranda flower, alongside the delicate pink of fresh ham is interesting, though probably better suited for a nursery than a lounge. Because I had no desire to engender feelings of not being wanted and thus create neurotic dogs, I sliced slivers for Wombat and Tigger.
The first time I dosed Bear he ate it direct from my hand … but … the feel of his teeth on my palm made that the last time. Not that he would bite … it was just a risk I had no wish to take. One chomp and the ham containing the pill were gone. Wombat and Tigger looked in surprise at the small piece allocated to them, but taking it as it was meant … a treat … who were they to snub such an offering. The first week wore on. Bear was lethargic, lying around disinterested. Week two saw a minuscule improvement. We are now at the end of week three. Bear bounces towards the door the moment he hears me and sniffs eagerly for his medication. I am still being kind to Wombat and Tigger and tossing a tiny portion their way. Bear is a changed dog. He hasn't entered the seniority wars, being much too sensible for that, but he has vigour, verve and vitality. Whatever his affliction was, it is definitely well on the way to being cured. We still have enough blue pills for another week, and just yesterday another large piece of ham was delivered … more than enough to complete the course.