Meet Nellie, our rescued Gordon Setter, a beloved family member who fills some of the empty space left by our two grown daughters. She is sweet-tempered, congenial, and gentle, with a beautiful, satin-black coat with golden patches on all four legs, chest, and face.
Several months ago Nellie had two cysts on her back that were causing her considerable discomfort. When they ruptured and left open wounds that wouldn’t heal, and had grown deeper into her body, it was decided she’d need surgery to remove them. After almost ten months of watching these cysts and worrying, we were eager to have them taken care of.
The surgery was fairly minor day surgery, but we knew she would come home wearing one of those torture-chamber devices–the big plastic cone fastened around her neck to keep her from reaching the surgery site with her mouth and messing with the stitches and healing process.
We’d gone through that once before with her and couldn’t take that anguished look in her pleading brown eyes as she stumbled on the stairs and couldn’t jump up on the bed with us.
We traded the cone for a white tank-top tee shirt. It did the trick.
This time, however, it was going to be more serious. Nellie would have two healing incisions with about 14-15 stitches that we had to keep her completely away from. We would need something more durable, something we could feel sure she couldn’t get off.
“I’ve got it!” I told Richard, ” I’ll bet one of those doggy coats we see on dogs when we walk in the park would work. They have velcro straps or something and look like they’d stay in place. I need to see one up close. The only thing is, I think they’re ridiculously expensive.”
“Well, maybe we just need to splurge on one if you think it would do the trick.”
“I know! I’ll go to Pets Mart and take a good look at the ones they have, and I’ll examine how they’re made. Then I’ll come home and make her one out of some fabric I have in my stash downstairs.”
“Well, if anyone can sew one that works, you can.”
So, off the Pets Mart I went, and it was my lucky day. Right in the center aisle, on a long sales rack, was an assortment of dog coats on sale. And I mean on sale–half off! I started pawing through the bright-colored specimens, amazed at the various styles available. I pulled out an extra large. That looks about the right size, I decided. It was amazing. A large flat piece to cover the back, a curved collar section with long velcro straps to attach at her neck, velcro straps to attach underneath her tummy, and two elastic straps to slip over her hind legs so as to keep the back piece from riding forward. The entire garment was of a waterproof-type shiny fabric, with a removable liner made of fleece that also had the velcro straps and could be removed and used alone.
“This is perfect,” I told myself. “It’s like two garments in one. If only it weren’t bright orange.” The original price was thirty dollars, so it was now fifteen. It took me about a minute to ponder if it was worth fifteen dollars to me to go home, make up my own pattern, and create my own version. Nope. This definitely was going to be a worthwhile expenditure.
It was then that a bright patch of turquoise blue caught my eye. Down at the end of the sales rack. I raced over to it, hunter’s orange dog coat in hand, and pulled it out. It was identical to the orange one I’d settled on.
“This really IS my lucky day,” I almost laughed out loud, as I traded the orange coat for the blue one. Turquoise is my favorite color. And I was willing to wager Nellie would like it better too.
Home I went with my prize, and Richard was as enthusiastic as I was. We’d remove the fleece lining, though, as Nellie had all that thick fur to keep her warm. Richard couldn’t wait. He had to try it on her right away. A perfect fit! And the turquoise was most becoming on her shiny black fur.
Nellie had the surgery and came home with the awful plastic cone, which we promptly traded for the stylish turquoise doggy-coat. Our faith was justified, and the coat worked very well. It stayed in place even when Nellie rolled on her back in the snow. The waterproof fabric kept her incision clean and dry, and everyone who met us in the park commented on the stylish outfit Nellie had on.
Nellie’s incision healed up just he way it was supposed to, she only managed to roll on the ground vigorously enough to get her coat off twice, and even the vet was impressed at our solution to the post-op protective cone problem.
Guess there’s always more than one way to skin a cat……or dress a dog.