Monday, March 28, 2011

Wounded Polar Bear

The past couple of days, I thought Cletus was acting funny. He would travel funny when he would first get up and come to see me, but then he would line out. The other evening he laid out in the rain and refused to get up. This isn’t all THAT unusual, but most of the time I can get him interested enough to come and see what I want. I became concerned and vowed to go check him thoroughly after feeding the lambs.

I heated up goats milk, filled the 5 bottles, plus one for the leppy calf and headed to the barn with Bruno. Cletus was not far behind and the two of them came to visit and babysit the lambs and goatlings while I fed. I noticed Cletus was licking at his flank and spotted a couple of nasty cockleburrs there. He wouldn’t let me pull them, so I figured Randyman could hold him for me in the morning, as it looked like he had developed a ‘hotspot’ from licking so much.

We were invited to the boss’ house for dinner. It was sleeting and cold, so I took the truck, but the pups insisted it wasn’t safe for me to go unescorted, so they followed along and laid out in the weather for 2 hours while we ate and visited, then returned to their spot closer to the barn.

The following morning, Randyman conned Cletus into rolling over on his back for a belly scratch while I attempted to cut away the burrs. There was an open wound the size of my fist, which smelled badly. Cletus was very defensive and was whining and snapping a bit, to protect himself. He wasn’t seriously trying to hurt us, just discourage us. I reprimanded him and decided it would be necessary to get him to a vet as he needed antibiotics and I was worried about the smell.
Cletus weighs just a tad over 100 lb and looks remarkably like a polar bear. He has been to the vet twice and was traumatized by the experience both times...possibly because they stuck an instrument down in his ruptured ear drum and then castrated him. He developed a serious case of claustrophobia and we have been unsuccessful in getting him into ANY building other than the barn. Any place with a door and a roof is too overwhelming to him. Putting him in the backseat of a pickup truck isn’t even on the radar.

We hooked up the 4 horse trailer and after about 15 minutes, finally got him loaded. I have loaded bad horses and other large animals with less effort. It took Bruno’s help and encouragement, then we put Bruno back in the yard, with a request for someone on the ranch to let him back out once we were out of sight.

 Driving down the road, with all the noise of the trailer, wind and audiobook, we could still hear Cletus howling in the back. His paws and nose were sticking out the side of the trailer as he tried to squeeze through a 6" space and he was pitiful. We felt so bad for him, I agreed to ride in the trailer with him for a bit.

In case you are wondering, it is COLD and WINDY in the horsetrailer. I shivered and chipped my teeth, while Cletus continued to howl and stand on his hindlegs to see out. After about 15 miles of futile attempts to console him, I flagged Randyman to stop and let me back in the truck to thaw out. The cold doesn’t affect Cletus, he lays out in the snow when it is freezing and below.

Two hours later we were at the vets office. I went in and told them we would have to sedate him to get him in the building. We took  him out of the trailer and no amount of coaxing, cajoling, or plain out muscling on our part could even get him onto the paved parking lot. Our best efforts were spent preventing him from climbing underneath the trailer where he could not be retrieved without backing over him. He was NOT going to go near that building and he was big enough, strong enough, and frightened enough that nothing was going to make him change his mind.

Forty-five minutes later (mind you, it was snowing and windy, so kinda nippy) I managed to get him near a large rock between the far edge of the parking lot and the building, and there we planted ourselves in front of the first parking spot. Randyman  unhooked the trailer and headed for town to run ranch errands.

As I formerly mentioned, Cletus does look like a big polar bear. I don’t think he looks scary and he is normally very social, but I guess as I sat on the rock with my head and hands buried in his heavy coat for warmth, he didn’t look too approachable. Several vehicles came and went, and none of them would pull up into the parking space, but stop in front of it, leaving a ten-foot gap between us and them, and they would go around behind the other vehicles to enter the clinic, instead of past us, to the sidewalk. One truck with two big guys did the same thing, only they got out, grabbed their cowdog that was in the back and stuffed him in the front of their truck before leaving him. Cletus stood nonchalantly watching everything.

The vet finally came out, with her assistant. Cletus wagged his long tail and happily greeted the assistant, but when the vet, with her stethoscope reached out to him, he let out a low rumble and began vibrating. It was easy to see how stressed and determined he was, and it was a unanimous conclusion that he was NOT going to go inside for us. We resorted to my muzzling him and two of us held his head while the vet proceeded to get down ON THE GROUND to look up underneath him and see the wound. Mind you, it was below freezing and snowing. She deduced that he would be okay without immediate treatment other than antibiotics and painkillers. I assumed that since she had been willing to come outside in the cold and lay on the ground, it was true, not just convenient.

After much pleading and cajoling, I managed to get him back in the horsetrailer, not because of any skills of persuasion on my part, but because he wanted to go home. So, $140 later plus $70 to replace the fuel on the trip in, we headed home. He stood and howled the 2 hour trip back as well.

Upon arriving home after dark, we could see Bruno laying in the driving snow, in front of the barn door where the lambs and goatlings are. The boss’ wife came out and said he spent the most of the time we were gone  between our house and the barn and whenever someone would show up, he would race to the barn door to let them know they weren’t likely to get past him. As we idled at the top of the driveway talking to her, he watched us from his post.

Today it’s snowing again, the pups helped me feed the critters this morning and I haven’t seen them since. Injury or no, I guess patrolling must be done. They are faithful as the Pony Express.

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