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“Neoma’s Tribulations: The Hawk”

I was on the phone when I heard little Neoma yelping on the hill behind the house.   I listened keenly, assuming she was simply distressed upon realizing how far she was from us.  She came running home, whining, but not in a way that alarmed me. I listened, curious about what the issue was.  Then when she got to the front porch she exploded in hysterical screaming. I quickly hung up my phone call and ran outside.

She sat on the front step, blood coating one side of her face. I rushed her inside.  My mind was racing; “What happened? WHAT DO I DO?!

  I couldn’t touch her face. She was a mess; a screaming, hysterical, terrified mess of a puppy.  5 minutes passed, I paced the house with her, trying to console her. 20 minutes had passed, still she screamed relentlessly and the bleeding wasn’t letting up. I couldn’t touch her face without cranking her hysteria up to the next level.

And then I had a (reluctant) revelation. How have I sedated dogs in the past? I paid a visit to my precious supply of strictly medicinal (seriously) cannabis oil. I factored what kind of a preciously minute amount would be appropriate for a puppy- not that a large dose would hurt her any, but I didn’t really need her sleeping for 2 days straight. I rubbed a tiny dab into her gums and paced the house with her for another 10 minutes. Her hysteria turned to exhaustion and her piercing screams turned into sleepy crying. I paced for another 10 minutes until she was asleep.

At this point I was able to set her down on the bed, clean her up, clear my head, and figure out what the heck was going on. After much fussing and many bloody swabs, I revealed a slice across her scalp, a small puncture in her cheek, and a disconcertingly deep puncture inside of her ear. There was a pin-prick sized hole almost and inch down inside of the cartilage folds of her tiny ear.

Apparently a hawk had tried to snag itself a canine luncheon. Raptors strive to pierce their prey through the ear into the brain for an instant kill. But this bird missed; its talon went harmlessly into the cartilage rather than into her skull.

 

My first task was to trim hair away from the wounds with scissors so I could discern how large they were and keep the fur out so they could heal. My second task was to discern whether there was damage to the ear itself and to keep the blood from pooling or caking inside the ear. Allowing the blood to fill and scab over in the ear may lead to long-term damages or scar tissue build up inside the ear, affecting both balance and hearing.  I learned this long ago, from a veterinarian who refused to clean clotted blood out of my ferret’s ear.  He insisted it was fine and to just leave the ear alone to heal by itself.  The ferret, Grettle, spent the rest of her life half-deaf with her head tilted to one side, walking and running sideways, and falling over from lack of balance.  It was very sad, especially knowing it could have been prevented with proper wound care (which the vet advised against).

Anyway, using cotton swabs to locate the bleeding, I was able to pinpoint where the hole was and was relieved to find it wasn’t piercing anything but flesh. Her ear’s function was not damaged.  I cleaned her up and applied an antiseptic, soothing salve to her cheek and scalp wounds. I kept her ear swabbed with alcohol to keep it sterile.

Her cheek and scalp wounds healed up quickly enough, but her ear continued to bleed for almost 4 days. Not a dangerous amount, but I had to sedate her lightly each day to remove the blood up and clean her ear.  The slightest touch of her ear sent her into fearful hysteria for several weeks after the incident.

Within a week or two she was back to her normal self, though she didn’t wander off alone. She had psychological trauma from the incident that took the first few months of her life to overcome; afraid of her ears being touched, afraid of being ‘snatched up’, etc. We worked her through it and thankfully there is no lasting or residual damage from the event.  She had a funny hairdo for quite awhile though!  I often wonder what she thinks when she looks up at the sky and watches the birds.