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October 27, 2014: Coller-ahh

Our three dogs have now all, in the past six months, had to wear the so-called Elizabethan collar. Rainbow’s worn it twice, and Jenna and Ryder once. It’s not the collar of choice around here; Rainbow being the most opposed to having to wear it.

Seeing as this has become the most used medical item in our house, I decided to do some research. I learned some, not a whole lot. Perhaps some knowledge is better than a whole lot of knowledge. It’s like the trash basket being half full instead of half empty.

Wikipedia – this is now where we all go for arcane information. Used to be we’d heft the Britannica Encyclopedia onto our laps, flip through the glossy pages, and read about the subject at hand. No more. Now we go to the computer, press a few keys, and download the needed information. The good thing about this is that there is far more useless information on Wikipedia than could ever be found in the Britannica Encyclopedias.

Here goes. Elizabethan collars were named after the ruffled collars worn in the Elizabethan era. They are now also called E-collars, pet cones, lampshades, or cones of shame. The last term was coined in the recent Pixar movie called “Up.” The Elizabethan collar is defined as “a protective medical device worn by a dog or cat.” This “truncated cone” (when in place) “prevents the animal from biting or licking an affected area on its body and or from scratching its neck or head while the healing process is taking place.”

The Elizabethan collar attaches to the animal’s collar with tabs or string passed through holes on the collar side of the plastic. The article continues, noting that the “neck collar needs to shut enough so that the animal is able to eat or drink.” The reader is then duly assured that “most pets adjust to having the collar surround its head, but some will not eat or drink when the E-collar is in place.

The article goes on to say that the standard plastic Elizabethan collar can be made from plastic or cardboard. Furthermore, it can be fashioned from plastic flower pots, wastepaper baskets, buckets, or lampshades. (An aside – reading this, I pictured a man in a green jumpsuit, sitting in his basement, under a florescent light, designing his animal’s collar).

I subsequently learned that some modern collars have soft fabric trim along the edges, the purpose of this being to increase comfort. Velcro attachments can also be added, the purpose of this being ease of removal.

I was really appalled by, after what reading the above, what came to mind, which is an image of my dog Rainbow wearing a wastepaper basket on her head, for I know that for her, this would be the ultimate indignity. If Pete (who is one step from being the sort who wears green jump suits and hangs out in the basement under florescent lights) fashioned something like this for Rainbow, it would upend her already shaky faith in human nature. It’s the sort of thing that would prompt a sensitive dog such as herself to crawl under the porch and never emerge again. And I would be right on her heels.

I have yet another take on this E-collar thing. This is that once in place, it enables dogs and cats to communicate with extraterrestrials. These, the space brothers and sisters, have lengthy conversations about just about everything. This is, in fact, how aliens have come to know so much about humans and what makes us tick. The following is a conversation that this morning took place between Rainbow and Squid, her favorite space brother.

Squid: Outer space to Rainbow. Come in Rainbow.

Rainbow: I’m already in. I want to go out. I gotta pee and don’t want to pee on the living room rug. If I did this, I might get beaten.

Squid: It appears as though the humanoids are being insensitive to your wishes.

Rainbow: They’re not being insensitive to my wishes. They’re ignoring them.

Squid: Why are you wanting to go out? It’s 14° F degrees out. Why don’t you just pee on the kitchen tile and call it good?

Rainbow: Can’t call good bad. I also have my winter coat on. And I also have last winter’s coat on.

Squid: Why are you wearing last winter’s coat?

Rainbow: Because I lack the energy to shed it.

Squid: Yes, the inability to shed coats comes with age.

Rainbow: I’m going to be 14 on Halloween.

Squid: How do you feel about this?

Rainbow: Like shit. I want to be two years old again. Back then, I was young and full of energy. Alys and I, we spent hours together, me running, her bicycling. I’d run off and return to her. She was then like she is now, somewhat slow. But gosh, she sure did have a lot of endurance.

Squid: Times change.

Rainbow: Hell yes. I also detest having this damn collar on my head. You ever try to steal another dog’s food when you’re wearing one of these things? It’s impossible. Come on. You put this dang thing on your head and in an hour tell me how you feel.

Squid: I empathize. I have to wear a heavy head cover 24-7.

Rainbow: Why is that?

Squid: It’s an integral part of my space capsule. I live in rarified air. Without the hood, I would die. The design inherent to this system takes the oxygen out of my bodily wastes. The oxygen is then sucked into a specially designed circulation system, which is one that I draw upon in a continuous fashion.

Rainbow: What about the other stuff?

Squid: What other stuff?

Rainbow: Ahem, the poop and pee.

Squid: Once a week it is sucked, via a porthole in the rear portion of my suit, into a huge container.

Rainbow: What becomes of the material in the container?

Squid: Dishonest politicians feed on it. This is why we say they’re full of shit.

Rainbow: Disgusting. Now this collar. You have any idea when it will be coming off for good?

Squid: Tomorrow the humanoids will be taking you to the veterinarian. They’ll then make this decision.

Rainbow: Oh no, not the veterinarian!

Squid: Oh oh. I probably wasn’t supposed to tell you this.

Rainbow: But you did. I’m not going.

Squid: This is why they’re taking you. You haven’t been going.

Rainbow: I peed and would pee again if they let me outside.

Squid: They want to see you poop.

Rainbow: Look, the veterinarian just put 60, count ‘em, 60 stitches in my fucking gut. I would not be able to poop now if my life depended upon it.

Squid: Your life does depend upon it. Just go. They will quietly clean up after you. Most humanoids are ineffectual and uncaring when it comes to pets, but yours are the exception. Their universe revolves around you.

Rainbow: You think so?

Squid: I, who am all knowing, know so. This is why, since your accident, that they have maintained a 24-hour vigil, so as to make sure you don’t choke on pill pockets or rip out your stitches while chasing rabbits in your dreams. By the way, you been having good dreams?

Rainbow: I used to (in my dreams at least) catch rabbits right and left in my dreams. Now they continuously get away from me.

Squid: It’s the sedative they’ve been giving you. This slows dogs down cognitively. You’ll again be catching rabbits in the next few days. In the meantime, you need to be catching some zzzzs.

Rainbow: Not to change the subject, but how are my dog friends on planet K-9 doing?

Squid: Yesterday we had a brief meteor shower. It rained cats and dogs all day. This caused considerable excitement among the pup populace. In fact, I almost stepped in a poodle. But other than that, it’s been quiet here.

Rainbow: I wish I could have been there. Now and then I enjoy a good cat chase.

Squid: This is good to hear. Desire is a part and parcel of a speedy recovery. Is there anything else you’re wanting?

Rainbow: I still smell like veterinary hospital. I would really like to roll in something dead and stinky.

Squid: Really stinky, eh?

Rainbow: Oh yes, really stinky.

Squid: There are still a few poached moose in your neck of the woods. When the time comes, I’ll figure out the GPS coordinates, and then pass them on to you.

Rainbow: But by then, Pete will have put my E-collar, err intergalactic communications system, back in the black hole.

Squid: We’ll continue to chat. You may have to stick your head in a wastepaper basket, but not for long. And you will be able to pull it out when you need to.

Rainbow: Thank dog for small favors.

Squid: And for large ones, too.

Next: 288. 10/28/14: The Passage of Time