Beeline 

The park where I walk my dog is big enough to accommodate two lacrosse pitches. It is not massive, but it is not small either. To walk around the perimeter with two small dogs, who like to stop and sniff, have the odd pee and maybe chase the occasional ball, or the occasional dog chasing a ball takes around twenty minutes. The park is about half a mile away so to get there and back takes twenty minutes, a forty to forty-five minute round trip in total.

Although I have been driving the dogs to the park since it got pitch black in the mornings till after 6.30, I like to try and walk them down on the weekend since my knee has been getting better, but this weekend my knee decided to stage a comeback on the pain index. Maybe it was the crappy day I had at work on Friday which made me want to cash in my long service leave immediately and move to a cabin on the west coast of Ireland, or maybe I slept awkwardly, who knows? All I know is that I was in sufficient pain on Saturday that I decided to drive to the park for both the morning and afternoon walks, thereby robbing my dogs of street entertainment and forty minutes of exercise.

Sunday morning was beautiful though, sunny and cool, so I felt that I should really make the most of it and walk down, even if that meant having to stop every now and then to rest my stupid joint. My husband had brought me breakfast in bed, technically because it was Mother’s Day in Australia and then gone to play golf, so we had the morning to ourselves and plenty of time to enjoy a good walk.

We were about three quarters of the way around the park, when Archie suddenly bolted. Given the size of the park and the fact that Archie is a smallish 10 kg terrier, and that the weather is colder now, I am surprised that he found a bee at all, but find one he did and as soon as I saw him shoot off, describing a large arc on his long lead, I knew he had been stung.

Archie manages to get stung at least once a year, and always in this park. How he manages it, I do not know, but it is always distressing. The bee dies and Archie suffers. There are no winners in this scenario.

I saw the bee on his leg, but it was too late, he had already delivered the payload. During summer, Archie is on anti-histamine tablets everyday because of his allergies to fleas, that latch onto him despite the flea tablets I give both the dogs. The last time he was stung by a bee, I think the pain was somewhat mitigated by the drugs, but he was on no drugs today and very distressed.

I checked around his leg and his paw, but could not see the sting, I just had to deal with its effects. I picked up my dog and walked to a nearby seat. He was still in my arms, then violently struggling as the pain kicked in. Bitter experience has taught me the pain hits him in waves.

I then had to disentangle my headphones from the strap of a bag I was wearing, which had a clip holding Lucy’s lead. I needed to unclip the lead and get Lucy attached. This was going to be a long walk home. I put Archie on the ground and he immediately ran forward at speed, as if trying to run away from the pain, while I sorted lead, headphones and bag.

I carried Archie most of the way. I think he may be nearer to 12 kg than 10. By the time I got home, he may as well have been a fully grown adult human.  Every now and again, he would struggle as the pain went through him and I would put him down, then pick him up as he limped again. It took a while to get him back.

Once indoors, I got an anti histamine into him and tried to inspect the patient. In order to try and distract him, I gave him a tiny dish of ice cream (which I had also used to deliver the anti histamine) and then inspected the leg. I could see nothing and let him go just in time to let him vomit up a milky pool.

So I delayed going out today and did not swim. My knee would probably have benefitted from the water but honestly I preferred to spend the day on the couch. I lay with my dogs watching a film, keeping an eye on Archie and holding a damp cool cloth to his leg to help with the pain, because if you can’t be a proper mum to your fur babies on Mother’s Day, when can you be?

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