I have two great dogs, one of them is absolutely precious! I found her at the dog pound over 7 years ago, she just turned 8. She and I have that real bond thing going on, she is truly a great companion to have around.
She is part Pharaoh Hound and part pit-bull. She has the heart of a lion, the courage of a Rhodesian Ridgeback and the tenacity of a terrier. She has never been afraid of anything in her life. She has beaten-up (not intentionally) a full-grown male Doberman, a very large German Shepard, and a couple lesser breeds. She is over that now…mostly. She will cuddle on the couch for as long as you can sit there. She hates birds, loves most male dogs, and has to show other female dogs whose boss. She torments our Golden Retriever mutt till he just can’t take it anymore, then she loves on him and makes him feel better. She is 52 pounds of solid, rock-hard muscle and a head that is a block of granite.
And she got a nasty leg wound on her leg a few days ago running in the desert with me.
This is the same dog that 5-1/2 years ago blew out her rear-leg knee. $2,800 knee reconstruction surgery later she is still going strong. But this was a soft tissue wound and not very deep. It is 3” in length, 1” wide, it tore off the layer of hair and a layer of skin.
I let her tend to it the first two days accessing how bad it was, seeing what attention it might need. She did a pretty good job, but licking it can only do so much. Now it was time for me to step in. So I got out the medical kit and scrubbed her wound clean with WoundWash, placed a generous amount of triple-antibiotic on the wound itself and coated the entire area. Then more triple-antibiotic ointment on a 4”x4” gauze pad and wrapped that onto her leg with 5” gauze. I did that 3 times per day for 4 days, and decided to put the “cone” on her to make sure she wouldn’t get to it, tear the bandage off and start licking it again while we weren’t home.
It is now 4 days later and she is doing well. The wound is still noticeable and the cone is off whenever we are home. She thinks the cone is some medieval torture device, I would too if I had to wear it. The wound will need some tending to for probably another week or so to make sure she doesn’t aggravate it by licking it.
So why all this long explanation and story about my great dog?
I have gone through an entire tube of triple-antibiotic, couple rolls of gauze, and more 4×4’s than I care to admit to. As a prepper, a prepper that is responsible for 13 church congregations and who runs a large prepping website and also who happens to have written a couple prepper novels, you would think I have a large amount of medical supplies on hand. I do.
But this little episode has made me wonder if I have enough. This was little more than an abrasion, a super bad case of road-rash and not much more. I started thinking this morning what if this was a bad wound on her leg, a serious deep muscle wound. Of course I would have headed off straight to the vet’s office and let them take care of her. But what if there was no vet? Or what if I couldn’t safely get there?
I ran the streets for a lot of years on a fire truck doing the EMS thing. I have seen and provided emergency medical aid to some pretty torn up people in those years. I saw some folks die, picked up body parts and enjoyed some success in saving lives along the way. But I had a whole “system” behind me. What if there was no “system” to count on for assistance?
So I looked hard again at my medical supplies and still felt confident that I can handle a wide range of emergency medical problems and do so for an extended length of time. Or can I?
Here are a couple lessons learned from tending to my dog’s wounded leg:
- I don’t have enough 4”x4” gauze pads. How many should I have? No idea.
- I don’t have enough wide (4”+) rolls of gauze. How many should I have? No idea.
- I have enough triple-antibiotic ointment, but I really could use some “spray” version of the same, or something similar. How much should I have? No idea.
- I didn’t use exam gloves while working on her wound, but, if it was a human’s wound I should have, and would have. I don’t have enough exam gloves. How many should I have? No idea.
Why no idea on how many of the different items? Just that, I have no idea how much is enough. What I have might be enough if there aren’t many injuries. But one good car wreck with multiple victims and my supply would be all but wiped out. So I have no true idea how much is enough. It probably falls into the category of “you can never have too much.”
I felt good about my medical skills that I used while working on her wound, done it many times before on humans and animals. But if it had been really serious I would have to draw on skills I used 10 – 15 years ago. And those skills are no longer fresh in my mind. Maybe I would have to dust off one or two of the six or so medical books I have.
I also had no way to “put her under” if it had been bad. No, not as in euthanasia. Put her under as in anesthesia. Actually, I had no real way to deaden the area locally to relieve the pain while I did any cleaning or other procedure. I depended on her patience and tolerance for discomfort I caused.
When the grid goes down, or when a serious emergency or disaster strikes, times are going to be tough. If an animal or person gets injured, precious medical supplies will be used up quickly. It will be a tough decision to restrict medical supplies to humans; priority-based decision making (i.e. triage) says humans will need them the most.
I need to get my wife more first aid training. I can render pretty good care but what if the injured person was me?
In our little group of friends we have a couple of nurses and a paramedic so we are really blessed. But they have to have equipment and supplies to work with or their skills lose lots of value very quickly.
I will be adding more medical supplies to our preps with some overtime money this fire season.
And most of all…I love the cute white dog so much it makes my heart hurt to see her suffer. And she can make me feel like a million bucks when she says, “thank you” with her eyes for providing the medical care she needs.
She knows, she knows…
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