An Eye For an Eye With the Critters

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It started with a startled cat and an inadvertent swipe of a clawed paw. Rosie, our smart but high-strung dog, leaped up on the ottoman on which Tot, one of our two cats, was snoozing. This startled Tot, who is normally both sweet and skittish. Rosie began yelping and whining after Tot swatted her in the eye. No doubt it stung. Rosie immediately sequestered herself on the other side of the house, propped up on a couch pillow

. We soon noticed her eye was swollen nearly shut. I called the veterinarian and made an appointment for the next morning.

As I got ready the next morning, I noticed Tater — our other cat and Tot’s brother — was walking around with one eye closed. I decided to chalk it up to sympathy for his canine sister, hoping for the best. Tater looked a bit like a four-legged version of Popeye and didn’t seem to be fazed by only seeing out of one eye — unlike Rosie, who was using this opportunity to garner maximum sympathy.

The vet is new in town, taking over from the previous owner, who is retiring. She is young (it’s all relative at my age), kind and thorough. Luckily, the swat had not punctured Rosie’s eye, just left a scratch. Eyedrops and antibiotics were prescribed, as well as a return trip.

It has taken me years, but I have learned how to administer pills to Rosie. I used to roll the pill up in cheese, which works with most dogs. Not Rosie; She would swallow the cheese and spit out the pill. Finally I adopted a more aggressive approach. I pry her mouth open, shove the pill as far back in her throat as I can, then swiftly follow with a small piece of cheese, while holding her snout shut. This works nearly every time, though sometimes she manages to work the pill out of her mouth. This is a smart dog. Sam the Special Needs Dog, on the other hand, happily eats anything offered, from medicine to lettuce. He figures if I am handing him something, it must be good.

By the next morning, Rosie’s eye was somewhat better, but Tater still looked like Popeye. All he needed was a pipe and a sailor’s hat. I started feeling guilty and called the vet again. We decided since Rosie was due a follow-up visit the next day to make it a double date. I had to go buy a pet carrier, which this 20-pound cat did not appreciate being slammed into. I left them both at the vet and received a report a few hours later. Tater was not a cooperative patient, I was told. His eye ailment did not result in an attack from brother Tot. He had acquired conjunctivitis. Good grief. What are the odds of two of our pets coming down with eye ailments at the same time? I started scouring the want ads to see if I could pick up another job to pay vet bills. Not really, but I knew this was not going to be cheap.

There was only one way to doctor Tater, who was able to share Rosie’s eyedrop prescription but had his own pills. I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, pinned him to the floor, pried open his mouth for the pill, snapped his jaw shut and then administered the eye drops. Once I let loose of him, he stood up, shook his head and looked at me as if to say, “Exactly what did I do to deserve that?”

I ended up carrying those two to the vet five times before both were pronounced fit for duty. They appear to have fully recovered, which is more than I can say for our bank account.

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