Can Your Pets Have Too Much Fun?

January 27, 2012 | By | Comments (3)

Chances are, at some point, you’ve experienced pangs of guilt when it comes to your pets. Either you’re gone for too much of the day or you don’t play enough games with your pets or you travel to places where your pets can’t come along. Such is the modern world we live in. Many of us commute to offices where we work long hours. Most of us don’t live on acres and acres of land where our pets can explore the great outdoors to their hearts’ content.

Personally, I carry my “pet guilt” to the extreme, and my good friend Wendy is equally guilty as charged. She reminds me facetiously that “we are there to serve.” She wonders aloud how she unwittingly found herself running a five star hotel for her cat Princess Farooz and her dog Brandy. At least we can poke fun at ourselves for our obsessions with our pets.

Every now and then, my guilt goes into hyper-drive and I decide to plan a weekend day tailored to the fantasies of my four-legged friend. Such was the folly of my ill-fated journey to a nearby nature preserve or what I like to call “how a walk in the woods went wrong.”

nature reserve photograph by jennifer mirsky

The plus side? Beautiful woods. Babbling streams. Leaves underfoot. Needless to say, the dog was in heaven.

dog runs through stream in the woods photograph by jennifer mirsky

The down side? Fantasy turned into reality when the dog came back with the unwelcome souvenirs of several embedded ticks in his hair. These were swiftly removed by the vet and he was patched up and sent on his way. But the ticks had already managed to bite him, and so he spent the next week industriously working away at the underside of his leg, until he had a full-blown hot spot that required yet another vet visit. He was prescribed an astringent spray and the hair on his leg was shaved to let the irritated area dry out.

He could not stay away from said leg. He would lick it and gnaw it and bite it the second I turned away. He would do this while walking. He was utterly and thoroughly obsessed.

I watched him like a hawk. I acted as if I were his private nurse in an intensive care unit. I reprimanded him constantly. I made sure he wore his Elizabethan collar (a.k.a. “E-collar”) day and night. Not everyone in the home agreed with my treatment regimen. Either they took pity on him and decided he looked hot or uncomfortable, or they thought he was with me when instead he was all by his lonesome, merrily chewing away at his leg with abandon and reopening the wound.

I nicknamed him Houdini for his ability to squirm out of all three Elizabethan collars I had in my possession. I didn’t even attempt to try out the fourth as it was even smaller and clearly would have been a cake walk for him.

dog in inflatable elizabethan collar photograph by jennifer mirsky

First try: the inflatable E-collar

dog in medium-sized elizabethan collar photograph by jennifer mirsky

Second try: medium-sized E-collar (he still managed to reach his leg)

dog in large elizabethan collar photograph by jennifer mirsky

Third try: the largest E-collar on-hand

Somehow, he figured out that if he shook his head from side to side, and banged intentionally into doorway openings or walls or even pillows and blankets on the bed, he could dislodge the dreaded cone. He was so engaged in a bed blanket digging expedition, that I was able to record his exploits.

One step forward in the healing process; two steps backwards. This went on for at least six long weeks. Finally, with a united human front about the donning of the E-collar at all times of non-supervision (such as shower time, bedtime, etc.) and the simple beauty of the mere passage of time, the hot spot finally began to dry up and the hair on his leg to grow back in.

Was it worth it? Honestly, I can’t say it was. Next time, I’d like to find a spot of nature with ample pleasures but fewer invisible threats.

What about you? Have you gone out of your way to make sure your pets have fun only to wish you hadn’t done such a good job?

Related Links:

Flea and Tick Prevention (

Helping Your Itchy Pet (

Dr. Joe’s TICK it AWAY product (this is what my vet used, and it worked like a charm!)