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Donald McCaig

Bone School

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Dear Doggers,

 

When I kill a lamb or deer, I freeze the bones for the dogs. Though they get leftovers and the Three Biscuiteers share my breakfast biscuit most of their diet comes in Mr. Purina's blue or purple bags.

 

On Bone Morning, I make sure I've got enough for each Border Collie and guard dog. They expect numerical fairness though unlike Goldman Sachs partners, they don't fuss if each share isn't equally succulent. There are rules among them - the (temporarily) abandoned bone belongs to he who finds it. No bone quarrels. Our yard is a peaceable kingdom.

 

It's Bone Morning because of Bone Poops.

 

I bought 2 year old Jake in Scotland where he'd been a kennel dog. He's adapting to his new life and work pretty well, is mannerly in the house, the car, at trials and motels. He's biddable and I expect we'll find our partnership. The last time I gave Jake a bone - maybe five inches long - rather than gnaw the meat off and crunch the bone until it was gone, he sword swallowed it in a single gulp.

 

Almost immediately he was distressed, coughing and gagging, so off to the vet ninety minutes away. Since it was an emergency they saw me promptly and determined that the bone had lodged in Jake's esophagus. The vet said that usually the bone has been lodged for too long and the esophagus becomes necrotic which is BIG TROUBLE. She could knock him out and try to get the bone with her laser thingie or she could operate. I voted for the thingie. She tried for about an hour to bring it back up his throat but failing, took a long rod and tunked it on past into his stomach.

 

$900 later Jake lived to bolt his food again.

 

Today was Bone Morning and all the dogs gathered round admiring me extravagantly. The button buck's biggest bones were its ham bones and I made sure Jake got one of those. He held it like a bride whose senile aunt's wedding present is "Lessons in the Southern Estonian Dialect (with fish course)".

 

Jake dropped it and ran around the house. The other dogs were busy with their bones and didn't look up. On his next circuit, I called him and reintroduced him to his deer ham bone. He held it like a shoplifter surprised. He dropped it and ran around the house.

 

Aha. He's never had a bone.

 

So I retrieved it and brought Jake back in the house, laid the bone in his crate where he gets his kibble and left him alone. When I peeked, he was happily gnawing away. Before he got down to the size he could swallow whole and lodge in his esophagus, I took the bone away and tossed it outside to the other dogs.

 

One tunk is enuf.

 

Donald McCaig

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Lucky Jake, to get immediate (well, 90 minutes away) vet care for his "mistake".

 

My dogs love bone days and they are certainly followed by bone poops.

 

DD gets deer legs from hunter friends and her dogs do love them. Mine have to settle for beef bones (because that's what we have) and the occasional store-bought pork, lamb, or poultry bones. They settle happily!

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Hopefully, he will learn that bones are for chewing and that won't be an issue again. Mine get goat or turkey legs.

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Lessons hopefully learned:

  • Never give a dog new to bones ones that are small enough to be swallowed.
  • Know your dog. Gulpers have to be fed things that are either small enough to go down easily without problems or things big enough not to cause problems.

I'm glad there were no lasting ill effects from this hard lesson, but sorry for the drama and expense involved in learning it.

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Glad that Jake survived for you to be able to give us a 'happy' (though expensive) ending

 

a useful salutary lesson for the rest of us and one I will try to remember because, like the others, my dog's adore their bone days

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Ah yes, bone days. The very reason my dogs get up in the morning... In case...

 

We do lamb, deer and moose. Moose have VERY large bones.

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Moose have VERY large bones.

My dogs are wondering how your dogs get their mouths around a moose bone!

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My Berners say, "Child's play!"

 

Actually, they all like them - even the Scotties who are pretty small. And, of course, the antlers are the best long term chewies ever.

 

Moose hunting is complex around here, numbers closely checked, licenses very restricted, etc. They're large brutes with erratically waxing and waning populations. Even our guard dogs are respectful of them. Of course, you can virtually *count* on someone from the farm hitting one every year. Usually the vehicle is more damaged than the moose :/

 

Almost the whole moose gets used in making meal for the dogs. Same with deer and the ocassional bear.

 

Personally, I do not like the taste of wild meat but the dogs like it best.

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I gave a Collie a beef rib bone once, a long time ago. Left him happily gnawing in the back yard. Next day he seemed off-color. Moping around. Hanging his head over the water bucket. Opening and shutting his mouth. Distracted. Even more confused than usual.

 

Hmmm.

 

Held dog's muzzle and looked in his mouth. Nothing. Not even under the tongue. Pulled his lower jaw down and stuck my finger into his throat. Mild gag reflex but nothing in the esophagus as far down as I could feel. But dog's not happy.

 

Took dog to vet. Told vet recent history, including bone. Vet takes dog's head an tilts it waaaay back, opens dog's mouth. There, sideways, flush with the roof of his mouth, wedged between upper molars is flat rib bone.

 

Vet pries it out. Everyone much relieved. How could I not see that? But I didn't. No more rib bones for Collie. Only knuckle bones.

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Dog of mine couldn't sleep, was fretful at the end of the bed. Eventually managed to persuade her to open her mouth and she had a stick wedged exactly where you describe.

 

Within 30 seconds of getting it out she had dropped off to sleep. Poor thing was exhausted.

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DD's one dog is totally offended by raw chicken but goes ape over anything to do with a dead deer. Maybe he's telling us something about commercially-produced meat? That's from the store meat that he is grossed out by. They live near five poultry houses and if he can find any "parts", he's ready to gobble them down.

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I gave a Collie a beef rib bone once, a long time ago. Left him happily gnawing in the back yard. Next day he seemed off-color. Moping around. Hanging his head over the water bucket. Opening and shutting his mouth. Distracted. Even more confused than usual.

 

Hmmm.

 

Held dog's muzzle and looked in his mouth. Nothing. Not even under the tongue. Pulled his lower jaw down and stuck my finger into his throat. Mild gag reflex but nothing in the esophagus as far down as I could feel. But dog's not happy.

 

Took dog to vet. Told vet recent history, including bone. Vet takes dog's head an tilts it waaaay back, opens dog's mouth. There, sideways, flush with the roof of his mouth, wedged between upper molars is flat rib bone.

 

Vet pries it out. Everyone much relieved. How could I not see that? But I didn't. No more rib bones for Collie. Only knuckle bones.

 

Had the same with Ross and a stick. Must have been there for ages. I managed to remove it quite easily but he needed antibiotics for the infection it has caused.

 

I just put the smelly breath down to the fact that he was old and he wasn't a quick eater.

 

I felt so bad for missing it but it won't happen again.

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I'm sure many of us have experienced something like this. Our dear old Airedale was fussing at her mouth and we could not find anything amiss. Sure enough, a bone or twig (don't remember which) was jammed across the roof of her mouth between her back molars. She was a good dog and I only found it because she was so trusting that I could work my fingers around until I discovered the problem. Once it was out, what a relief!

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My JRT got sandspurs stuck in the roof of her mouth, but she has this "I'm standing on my head with both front paws in my mouth" pose that tells me she is in trouble. There's no mistaking that for anything else.

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