Posted by: ritagone | June 8, 2011

The Cone of Shame

Sherlock, our little puppy, is wearing the plastic “cone of shame” for 10 days after his neutering surgery last Wednesday, and it is both comical and tragic.

Sherlock doesn’t understand why he has this plastic cone around his head, keeping him from scratching at his stitches and from his paws.  He can’t grasp anything and get it to his mouth.  He bumps into things because he forgets that there is now a 10- inch diameter thing jutting out from all sides around his head.  And therein lies both the comedy and the sadness, because of course you can’t sit him down and tell him why he has to wear this macabre apparatus, why it’s uncomfortable, inconvenient, and generally disrupting his little six-month-old puppy life.  He can’t play with his toys because he can’t grasp them with his front paws and get them to his mouth.  (That’s the whole point of the cone, isn’t it?)  Even drinking water and eating his food are a struggle, because the cone interferes.

And yet the cone does its job in that it keeps his searching baby teeth away from the sutures that he would gladly tear out.  I know this for a fact, because two days after his surgery, in great compassion and when no one was looking early one morning, thinking that I was doing him a favor, I took the cone off in our backyard to let him “run free” for a few minutes.  What’s the first thing he did?  He attacked his stitches with a vengeance!  And then, of course, I panicked, trying to get the cone back on him by myself, which I discovered is no easy matter.  So I had to go get Michael out of bed and confess my misdeed so he could come and put the cone back on the puppy.  It wasn’t easy for him either, so after a few choice words which shall remain unpublished, we’ve pledged to leave it on him no matter what.

I wonder if Sherlock now thinks in his small doggy brain that this is the way it’s going to be forever, that he will be wearing this thing until he dies?  Oh, he’s adjusted to it over the last week all right.  He can now go through the French door to the backyard without knocking himself silly.  He can bow his head to the food bowl and eat.  But does he remember the “good old days” before the cone when he had absolute freedom of movement and could see his front paws, lick them, grasp toys and objects between them and chew to his heart’s delight?  And is that joy now gone forever in his little doggy brain?

You see, Sherlock has no sense at all that this cone is for his own good and protection.  We’ve told him, talking to him slowly and calmly, but we know he doesn’t understand our words. (I know, I know, we’re idiots, the kind of people who talk sensibly to their pets.  What can I tell you?  Didn’t you get that already?)

To him, everything that’s happened in the last week is just confusion and misery, unexplained and unintelligible.  Oh, he trusts us up to a point because he’s come to love us over the past four months in that way that animals have when they abandon themselves completely to safe and kind owners; we feed him and house him and cuddle with him, and he knows we mean him no harm.  But I’m sure he still can’t quite figure out what the heck has happened to him recently and why this silly cone is around his head and what it all means for him going forward.  I think the surgery itself is a forgotten memory by now, being a week old.  But the cone is a constant irritant.  He wants to scratch but can’t.  Instead, he scratches the cone itself.  It’s rather quite comical.  He wants to grab something but can’t.  Life is one big overwhelming frustration.

God must be smiling at us as we smile at our puppy.  In the same way that we understand more than Sherlock does, in the same way that we grasp the bigger picture and know that this coming Sunday afternoon, the stitches will come out and the cone will come off, God knows that many of the things we complain and stew about and fret over have an end in sight, and He knows when that is.  And in the same way that He can see the benefit of some of the things that happen to us while we can’t, Sherlock has to trust that his owners love him and are taking care of him.

So hang in there, little Sherlock, there’s an end in sight.

And I’m going to try to do the same when that figurative cone is around my own head and I can’t see the end of it, knowing that God is for me and wants what’s best for me at all costs.

A good lesson for us all to learn.

Have a good rest of the week.

Regards, Rita

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