Cone Head

In every dog’s life there comes a time when he is selected to wear the "Cone of Shame".  The piece of plastic that encases the head in a ridiculous, yet confining crown is a right of passage for our four-legged friends.  Chase has had to wear the cone of shame several times, mostly due to his fondness of playing with snakes.  More recently, George has been bestowed with the cone.

The Englishman and I had a few complaints for the vet when we escorted George to his annual visit.  The small lump on his ear had grown larger and his breath had become unbearable.  We wanted to have his teeth cleaned and the lump removed at the same time.  The vet inspected George’s mouth and found one bad canine tooth that she felt might be causing the sewage smell.  We scheduled an appointment as soon as possible for the surgery which happened to be on a day when the Englishman was out of town.

I took the day off of work to bring George to the vet.  He happily jumped into my car, wagging his tail until I took a left turn out of the neighborhood instead of a right.  If you think dogs do not know their left from their right, think again.  In my town, “left” means “vet”.  Right means a lot of other things.  Better things.  More preferable things.  I took a left.  George pawed at my leg.  I ignored him.  George tried to jump into my lap and take over control of the steering wheel.  He has no thumbs and I thwarted his plans of car hijacking.  George finally sulked in the back seat and refused to make eye contact.

Moments later, I parked and was trying to convince George to exit the car.  I then tried to convince George to enter the building.  After resorting to dragging my dog into the office, I sat on a bench waiting for our turn.  George stood up on his back legs, placed his head in my lap and let his paw tremble.  I felt terrible.  Worse than terrible.  I frantically glanced around the room for a box of tissues as my eyes seemed a bit watery.  Finally, it was our turn.  I signed a lot of paperwork.  I was told I could check on him throughout the day.  I was told to leave.  Really?  I didn’t want to leave.  George was looking at me with his big brown eyes and giving me the “trembly” paw again.  The technician told me that I had to leave first.  It was apparently better for the dog.  I left and sat in the parking lot, tears in my eyes, and sent a text to the Englishman damning him for his business trip to California that forced me to be the villain.

I went home and waited.  I needed something to take my mind off of things so I turned on MTV’s “Teen Mom” marathon and proceeded to clean the house.  I am domestically disabled so this was no easy task, plus I could feel the other dogs’ “judgey” eyes on me.  The vet finally called me to let me know that George was awake and he had five teeth pulled.   “Does he have any teeth left?”  I asked, horrified.  I was assured that he had plenty of teeth left.  The vet felt that the teeth she removed were the cause of George’s garbage mouth.  I would be able to pick him up at five.

I went early, but they meant five.  I had to wait and stare at the bags of Science Diet pet foods on a shelf in front of me.  Finally, George careened around a corner sliding his cone encased head into my leg.  I dutifully listened to the instructions on meds and food and then carried Cone Head to the car.  When we arrived home, the other dogs backed away from him, fearful of a similar fate.

The first day, Cone Head learned how to navigate the house and outdoors without catching the edge of the cone on an object.  This was important because Cone Head would freeze when the edge the plastic caught on a door frame or other immovable object.  He wouldn’t back up or move his head.  Just freeze.  Thankfully he only weighed 33 pounds as I had to carry him around quite a bit.  The first night, he slept soundly on a dog bed on the floor of my bedroom.

The second day, he had conquered the house and every edge and object.  He wasn't sure of the front door or stairs so I would carry him outside to the front yard where there was little to block his path.  Cone Head would trot through the freshly cut grass, his head bobbing from side to side as he sniffed the warm summer air.  The second night, he slept in my bedroom, the envy of the other three canines. 

On the third day, Cone Head growled at the other dogs.  He howled.  He barked.  He carried shoes around the house in his mouth.  He was back to his typical self.  He followed me through the front door and into the yard.  He ignored me as I yelled for him to come back.  He outran me in front of the neighbors.  As I jogged down the sidewalk with my flip flops smacking against the hot cement, I wondered how a dog with a cone on his head could outrun and outsmart me.  He finally let me catch him.

In the house, Cone Head discovered that his cone could be used as a weapon.  He rammed the cone of shame into the other dogs.  He pushed the hard plastic into the back of my legs.  I didn’t fall over.  He backed up and tried again, pressing tiny red marks into my skin.  When it was time for bed, I called for him.  He ignored me.  “Fine”, I told him and walked back to the bedroom.  Moments later, the Englishman summoned me to the laundry room where the four-pack’s crate condo was located.  Cone Head had somehow backed into his crate, with the cone of shame (and his head) resting on the floor.  Stubborn dog.  I left him and he was still snoozing soundly in the morning.

Dogs can adapt very quickly to things, I have learned over the years.  George was eating his dry kibble without a problem, in spite of a distinct lack of teeth.  He demanded treats and could catch them with ease.  His stitches will soon be removed from his rapidly healing ear and Cone Head will be no more than a distant memory for him.