Cactus – 1, Axel – 0

Having pets is a constant battle. Yeah, they are cute. They do things that warm your heart, that make you laugh, that make you tell silly stories when friends are over (ever heard the one about our dog Pee Wee and the “Ghost Humping”?). But, there's also a flip side. Pets are a pain in the ass. Our two small dogs can not get the concept of not pissing or crapping in the house. It drives me insane. We will let them out in the back yard, they'll hang out, come back inside and pee in the hall. WTF?

Our big dog, an Irish Setter, has always been too smart for his own good. His name is Axel, but mostly I call him Dufus. When he was a small pup we used to lock out of certain rooms. He quickly learned how to press down on the door handle and push the door open. As if that wasn't bad enough, a short time later he learned how to escape a room by pressing down on the door handle and pulling the door open. All this meant was that he was free to roam the house and get in to trouble wherever he saw fit.

But still, even though they are a pain, when one of 'em has something bad happen, it's just like having it happen to one of your kids.

Axel has an electronic collar, so he has a bit of freedom when out on walks. For as crazy as he is around the house, put that shock collar on him and he's like a show dog. He usually trots ahead 20 – 30 feet. If he gets too far ahead, a quick zap and he'll pause long enough to come back in to a comfortable range. This lets us keep him close enough in case people are in their yard, other dogs or cars are in the area, we can wrangle him in and keep everybody safe.

Yesterday my wife took Axel out for a walk. As he's trotting along they are going by a house that has a few cactus in the front yard. As Chris explained it to me, “it was like the cactus jumped out at him.” One of the bulbs from the cactus got stuck in Axel's fur. This is one time where it's a good thing that our dog is overweight. Because of his weight and the placement of the cactus bulb being in the middle of his back, he wasn't able to reach back and grab it with his mouth. That would have made the problem a whole lot worse.

My wife, ever the quick thinker, rushed him home and grabbed some gloves and some hair clippers and went to work. This was the result:


Sadly, the gloves did not stop Chris from getting cactus needles stuck in her fingers.

We rushed him to the vet, as it was after noon on a Friday, and they suggested keeping him over night so they could work on getting the needles out over some time as he's quite excitable. We called them first thing this morning and they said he was all set and ready to go. When we got there she gave him one last once over, told us that it took 3 people to hold him down and keep him occupied while a fourth person removed the needles, charged us only $60 for the visit and sent us on our way. I gotta tell ya, I was expecting to pay a fair bit more so I was quite pleased!

So, Dufus is back home. The groomers suggested we wait a few days to give the area time to heal up before we bring him in to get a hair cut and a bath. He's got a bit of a bald spot. I need to make sure and take a picture to add to the book of “Dumb things done by Dufus”.

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