When you are owned by a Scottish deerhound, or two or three, you get the pleasure of their company on your couch, the soulful gaze of their soft brown eyes as they gently interfere with your reading and typing, and occasionally the crunching sound of the prime rib that was marinating on the countertop before your dinner guests were to arrive. Sometimes you also get hurt. These dogs may lounge around your home looking like gray shaggy throw rugs, but trust me, they do move, rapidly and with great force. Children in a deerhound home learn to walk with their knees bent, because a speeding hound colliding with a locked knee pays college tuition for many an orthopedic surgeon’s kid. The Deerhound discussion list abounds with hilarious takes on how many ways an unsuspecting owner can suddenly find herself in harm’s way—sprained wrists from leashes getting tangled, broken noses from an exuberant hound kiss, road rash from that time your canines spotted a feral cat at a truck stop on the way to the National Specialty and the occasional broken ankle because your dog decided spontaneously to cross in front of you to exit the show ring. We tell each other stories and have a little laugh—most of the time.
On Monday night after a grueling day traveling home from Colorado, I pulled into the driveway at 10 pm. Immediately the dogs were out of the house and all over me, and as I picked up my purse from the driveway where it had fallen, I managed to look up just in time to see a giant paw on a collision course with my right eye. A searing pain and blurred vision followed, and in a moment of hysteria to rival Gene Wilder’s in “The Producers” I screamed at my husband, “I am BLINDED and it’s YOUR FAULT! I have to go to WORK in the morning, and I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS!!” I cupped my hand over my right eye for dramatic effect, moaning softly. Eventually, I calmed down and went inside to inspect the damage, which consisted of a scratch across my lower eyelid. The blurred vision was due to the fact that a large deerhound toenail had dislodged my contact lens, and the searing pain was the result of said contact being firmly lodged in the inner corner of my eye. I was quite relieved that I could still see out of the eye as well as I ever could, which isn’t saying much.
Last night I had to attend a faculty dinner meeting. Midway through the meal, I spotted what appeared to be a gnat or a small fly whizzing around my food. I batted at it, and then remarked to the physicist sitting beside me that there was a bug bothering me and my dinner. He looked at me quizzically. He didn’t see any bugs. I continued to smack away at thin air until I came to the embarrassed realization that what I was seeing, was in my EYE, not on my plate. My right eye, which had been home to a dirty deerhound claw two nights prior. When the bug was still there this morning, I made an appointment with the eye doctor who was kind enough to see me during his lunch hour. Thirty minutes later, I emerged with a right pupil the size of a stealth flying saucer and a diagnosis of a vitreous “floater”, dislodged by trauma, annoying but not anywhere near annoying as a retinal detachment would have been. My afternoon patients were kind enough not to notice that their doctor appeared to be hallucinating bugs.
When you run with the big dogs, trust me, it’s always something!