"He will never permit a barricade fencing to prevent the dog from leaping down to the car porch," the mother said to me. "When we put up fencing, Dad will take it down," the daughter in her undergraduate studies reinforced her mum's statement to me.
The mother phoned me because the dog had been licking his Right Fore foot pad for the past 2 days. "It is common," I said as the mum wondered whether I knew what she was talking about. She is an old friend of over 30 years but she would consult other vets as I don't charge.
"The dog will lick the big foot pad under the foot till the black covering becomes white," I replied. "Usually it is due to some wooden splinters or sand stuck inside the cut pad and the dog tries to get it out by licking vigorously."
"Yes," she confirmed that the pad was indeed white but she disputed that there were any foreign bodies inside as she could not see any.
"You can't see the small foreign body because it may be embedded horizontally or at an angle inside the pad, but the dog can feel its irritating presence."
Indeed this was the picture. "How does it happen?" the mum asked.
"Well, the dog could be pawing the garden."
"No," she replied. The domestic worker was present and she said yes, the dog did paw at certain patches of the garden.
"Maybe it is due to the dog leaping down from the higher garden to the car porch (a height of around 3 feet) and cut his pad. The bricked edge of the tiled border of the garden at the edge might have cut his pad."
There was a 0.5cm cut in the pad and this could support her hypothesis. Now, I advised fencing up this area to prevent the dog from leaping.
"Thomas will not permit it. He just takes down any raffia string fencing we put up as it makes the house looks untidy."
"Can you talk to him again?" I asked the mum and daughter. They shook their heads. It was none of my business too. I gave a steroid injection IM in the back muscles while the maid held the dog who was now muzzled and was also wearing an e-collar. "So quick?" the mum was surprised.
"I need to be fast or I will get bitten," I know of Singapore vets being badly bitten by German Shepherds during house calls.
I had this sadness in visiting this house as the eldest daughter had passed away in a car accident some months ago. She would have become a good veterinary surgeon as that was her passion. That was her dog. He had been X-rayed recently by another vet as the family had not consulted me about their dog's health care for many years as the mum would not want free veterinary services from me.
Should I phone the father to advise putting up the fencing? The wife and 3rd sister in the house had been much negative and I ought to leave family matters alone. For the sake of the dog, I phoned the father to let him know I had treated his family dog. "Your wife had spent $500 on X-rays and veterinary consultation for the dog's problem," I said to him. "If you continue to let him leap, you will need to spend thousands of dollars in veterinary fees for his injuries to his back or hips and that is a lot of money to be spent."
The father replied in a serious tone and I thought there was no hope. However, the wife happily told me that her husband had put up some fencing when I phoned the next day. I asked the wife whether the dog was still licking his right paw. She said, "No, he is wearing the e-collar."
I said, "It is not the e-collar. It is due to the steroid injection I gave. You can take away the e-collar."
Sometimes, the vet has to be proactive in contacting the other spouse to advise in the interest of the dog and this takes courage and time. In this no-hope case, the husband accepted the advice with great reluctance I am sure as he does not phone me back to let me know.