Always Look A Gift-Dog In The Jaw

While at the 50th reunion I told the story of my moving into the backwoods of east Texas, and the story of recently losing my fine old dog, Lady. Now I have a new story that may be of some interest to story fans.

A new friend and neighbor, by the name of Al… tough old former Marine and master welder from the west Texas oilfields, our age and now retired… helped me bury my old dog, and even shed some of his own tears in the process. Al’s been worried about me being here without the security and companionship a dog affords to backwoodsmen, and he happened to have among his six dogs a young, rescued pooch they were calling “Pepper”, a half-lab and half-blue healer female. Al was so insistent I should have her for my own, I finally took delivery, Monday of last week.

Pepper, age 6 months. Cute ain’t she? Naturally I was anxious to be fully accepted by Pepper, so I petted and played with her a lot on Tuesday and Wednesday, got to know her pretty well. Thursday morning, however, I found that a good-sized lump had come up on the left side of her face… something that looked like maybe she was bit by a spider or a copperhead.

The veternarian is 24 miles away, but I took the dog in anyhow, just to be on the safe side. Vet looked it over real good, saying that we should just keep an eye on the knot, and if it was a bite it would tend to get smaller. And, if the knot stayed or got bigger over the weekend, then we would take care of the face thing and spay the dog, all under one anesthesia. This advice, an anti-inflamitory, some flea stuff and heart worm preventive cost me $144.


Pepper’s knot on Sunday. Ugly, ain’t it? Since the lump/knot on Pepper’s face got bigger, I called into the vet on Monday and was instructed to have her in the shop at 7:30 the next morning. I’m not accustomed to getting up that early, but I had to. It was dark at 6:30 Tuesday morning. Even so, I wrestled the pup into the mini-van and headed for Crockett, just as day was breaking. Got on the narrow farm-to-market road and crept along as conservative speed… maybe 45 mph. A half-mile east of the little town of Percilla, where the road passes through a tunnel of trees, with a pick-up truck behind me, a deer leaped right in front of my vehicle and got hit
at about the same time as my foot hit the brakes. No place to pull off the pavement, the air bags did not deploy, and the car wasn’t making noise, so I kept going, looking for a place to stop. As I did, noticed that the driver behind me, who could see all that had just happened, was almost at a stop as he went around the deer laying on the pavement. Was a quarter of a mile, over the crest of a rise, before I found a place to pull to the side and inspect my mini-van. Opened the hood, looked it over real good. Both headlights were still shining, and I found the thing otherwise functioning OK, even if a little ragged looking in front. While this was going on, the pick-up driver never caught up, so I calculated he did what is common around here….that he picked up some fresh deer meat and took it back to his place. I went on to the veteranrian’s office and dropped off Pepper.

First good luck of the week was discovering that Crockett has an auto-repair and body shop, and it’s considered a good one… Willie Jesey’s place on the northwest loop. One of their Billy Bobs examined “what do we have here”, came up with an estimate for repairs, and helped me do what I have never before had to do…to file a claim with my insurance company. Also, he fixed me up with a loaner car for the time my vehicle is getting fixed up.

In subsequent two days, ol’ Pepper has languished at the vets office, already spayed and resting, knot gone. The lump on her face, fortunately, turned out not to be cancer or anything with dark prospects. Was merely an infected salivary duct which formed a large abcess. She’ll be fine. On Friday they will take out the drain tube in her jaw, and I can bring the dog home. I’m expecting a fairly stiff veterenarian bill, of course… several hundred bucks for sure.

Thought of putting this story in “Fun Stuff”, but it seemed not to fit so well under that heading, so here it is in “News”. By far this is the most expensive dog I’ve ever had for just a week. Estimate on fixing the mini-van…. $3000.

Larry Keith

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