Like Cats and Dogs

That's not a stick! THIS is a STICK!!
That's not a stick! THIS is a STICK!!

Let’s see: what’s in the grab bag of goodies from the web clips goody bag this morning. Ah, I see we have one dog bone and one cat kibble to toss you.

So I’m not being overly-anxious when Tsuga runs with a thrown stick behind the house. It always worried me that 1) when he carries the stick (sometimes one of his own choosing and up to 5-6 feet long!) that he’ll run between two close-together trees and fracture his jaw or break is neck, or 2) when he picks up a shorter stick by the end and runs with it that it will get rammed into is mouth or down his throat.

Turns out that this kind of injury is all too common. So even though we usually chose short blunt pieces of wood cut for the stove, from now on, we’ll stick with tennis balls. Check out this vet’s warning.

“For vets it is one of the most frustrating kinds of injuries. Many injuries are minor but some are horrific. They range from minor scratches to the skin or lining of the mouth, to paralysis of limbs, life-threatening blood loss, and acute and chronic infections.

“The problem is that sticks are sharp – and very dirty. That means that, as the dog runs onto them or grabs them in its mouth, the end of the stick can easily pierce the skin, going through it to penetrate the oesophagus, spinal cord, blood vessels or the dog’s neck.

“Commonly, small or sometimes large pieces of stick break off and remain inside the neck. These sticks are usually covered in bacteria, fungi and yeasts from the environment.”

And I thought this was interesting: stray cats keep lost child safe. You don’t generally think about cats actually giving attention away. But apparently these did, long enough to keep a child from freezing.

“When I walked over they became really protective and spat at me. They were keeping the boy warm while he slept.”

The cats had been keeping the child alive, bringing him scraps of food that they’d collected, and protecting him from danger. “The cats knew he was fragile and needed protecting.” said Lindgvist.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’ve seen a few dogs with stick injuries – one friend’s dog had a piece of a stick lodged across the roof of her mouth, but nothing too serious. We don’t generally play with sticks , but one of my current dogs, after obsessively retrieving tennis balls for 9 years, has worn his teeth down in a pretty dramatic fashion. That’s mostly a cosmetic issue rather than a health issue, though – he doesn’t really need big sharp canines for anything, I hope.