Sometimes helping is worse
Since it's been almost a month since Louie came home mat-free, I think it's time to tell the story of why it concerned me and actually made me a bit upset with the situation.
Please know there are some photos you may find graphic.
If you don't know the story, grab a cup of something and just be confused with me. Sometime between Thursday evening around 10pm Louie went out, I'm assuming his "girlfriend" he'd been visiting was still in heat and he wanted one last night with her since it had been almost two weeks of this behavior. He didn't come home Friday morning for breakfast, so I didn't get to see him before I headed off to work. I left work early due to it being a busy week and I was already at my hours and I arrived back home around 2:30pm Friday afternoon. I was laying on the couch talking to my sister on the phone at about 3pm when Louie walked in, kissed my foot and then walked back to the porch.
"Um what? What is going on?" I said aloud, my sister confused and asked me what I was talking about.
"Uh Louie got a haircut." I said bewildered. "Like, who cut your hair buddy?" I didn't understand.
"Are you sure someone cut his hair?" My sister asked.
"Yes! He doesn't have the mats on his chest." I got up, moved the phone away from my ear to take a photo to send to her. "And he's like white, bright white."
I told her I needed to let her go and see what was happening. She told me it was going to be alright and hung up.
Of course by me figuring out what happened, I meant search Facebook, Nextdoor and even asking Louie as though he could answer. I made a TikTok saying that it was "good news" for some of our followers. Since some of them have been hoping for a groom to happen.
He did look quite impressive, I was just so shocked that someone was able to do this to him. Did he let them? Did he know them? Did they drug him? How in the world...
He drank some water, wasn't completely interested in a treat but ate it after awhile. He was sitting in his bush fort and just drifting off to sleep. At first I thought maybe it was exhaustion from the whole ordeal.
The fact that he was still bright white lead me to believe it happened in the morning. When he shook his body while he was on the porch, some clumps of fur fell off to the ground. His paws were only slightly dirty, probably from the walk home. I tried to examine him to see how much was groomed. He always has hated this about me. He doesn't like me "being nosey" about him. He didn't seem himself and didn't seem to mind that I was getting "closer" to see what was done.
His eyes were falling heavy and turning red. It was almost as though he was drugged. I decided he needed to eat something. If I was right that he'd been given something, it was on an empty stomach. Of course I recorded a bit and took some pictures because I wanted a second opinion. I took to Instagram, Facebook and TikTok to share my thoughts. Most agreed he'd been given something. Some just said it was exhaustion. Now I've seen Lou exhausted before, it's never been to this extreme so if course I was worried.
As he laid under his bushes, I tried to give him treats and just continue to asses the situation. As the evening went on, I would be constantly checking on him, making sure he was hydrated and breathing. At one point I panicked because he didn't have any response to me. I touched his foot thinking he'd pull it away like normal, he didn't. It wouldn't be until I held his paw that he would address my closeness and pull back. He gave me a kiss as if to ensure he was okay.
Saturday morning I woke up and opened the door and Louie slowly walked up the stairs to the front door. He gave me my morning kisses like usual and then laid down on the porch. I made his bowl of breakfast up like usual and told him it was ready. He shifted his position to look up the street instead of heading inside to eat. I gave him a few minutes to see if he'd change his mind, even attempted an "amuse-bouche" to see if he was hungry. Yes, that's what I call them instead of treaties when he gets a pot pie Nudges before a meal. I realized he wasn't going to come in for breakfast, so I brought his bowl outside and sat with him. He ate.
He laid back down, facing the driveway and I was sitting with my legs hanging off the porch admiring his "new coat" now that I could see it better. He was almost bright white, which meant he had gotten a bath. The majority of his mats were gone, there were still a few stranglers on his legs. His dew claw still hadn't been touched, the fur was long and so was the claw. He had a couple random mats still in his body coat, but he had been brushed. So many questions still going through my head.
Then started to clean himself. Nothing unusual for Louie, he regularly cleans his paws after he's eaten. What made me question was it wasn't his paws he was cleaning. He was cleaning his side, almost his hip. I seen he had some fur that wasn't like the rest of his coat, it was damp looking as though he'd been cleaning it for awhile before breakfast. I could see a mat was still there and thought maybe it was bothering him. I leaned in to take a closer look and he got up to reposition himself further away.
His eyes told me to stop looking, which made me want to look even more. So I got my phone out and made him think I was taking pictures of how "handsome" he looked. This would allow me to zoom in without invading his space. So, I did and what I seen was heartbreaking. Louie wasn't just cleaning himself, Louie was cleaning a wound. A pretty intense one at that.
I didn't share this on our social media, I only shared that I was concerned and everyone thought it was because he was finally "taken care of". When in reality I was furious because the person who thought they were doing something helpful could have made things a lot worse for him.
He may not have been drugged, he may have known the person, he may have even let them do it. With the looks of the wound, he definitely made a sound when it happened. Maybe they didn't know, maybe they assumed he yelped because the mat they removed hurt. I will never know because the person still hasn't owned up to it.
Since dogs have a protein in their saliva that can help heal wounds faster than anything I could put on it, I decided I would watch it, I would allow him to take care of himself as long as it was healing and not infected. For the next week I watched, and took pictures and videos to see his progress. Although I know dogs don't understand real conversations we have with them, I informed him of my decision. I let him know if it got worse and not better, we were going to the dog-tor.
Sure enough almost a week later, a scab had started to form. He was licking a lot less and only cleaning when he needed to. He's on the mend and our relationship hasn't changed much. He doesn't want me sitting next to him for any long period of time. He doesn't want my legs stretched out while sitting. He doesn't want to eat indoors every meal. He listens more when I call him, he even let me touch his paw again.
I've said multiple times that his mats weren't causing skin issues as everyone had worried and as you can see, I was correct. I am with him day after day, I may not be able to physically assess him but I have learned his habits and many of his personal queues.
Luckily, whomever thought this was a good idea, didn't ruin the progress I've made with him. By the end of this year, I will hopefully be able to announce that he's been fixed and vetted. Until then, please know that sometimes when you think you're helping a situation you could be making it worse. I know there's a possibility that Louie was dematted for his benefit, but the person who did this could have cost him his life in so many different ways. You possibly drugged him, injured him and then allowed him to wonder home alone.
When you're trying to help a lost or stray dog, please don't just think of that moment in front of you. What's convenient isn't always the answer. Sometimes what's convenient isn't actually helpful to those who love their lost or wondering pets.