May 17

Floss the drama dog

Floss has sat with her hind legs to the side since she broke her leg.

For an exciting few minutes I thought my dog Floss had medicated herself, although ripping off her loose toenail was never going to be in the same league as, say, repairing her smashed bone, regurgitating chocolate cake, fast tracking staples through her gut or preventing a gaping wound from becoming infected.

But even though it was a start, infection can quickly spread in dogs and once again Floss was on antibiotics – and once again the farmer was muttering, “I wonder how much that dog’s cost in vet bills,” closely followed by, “Perhaps she could also get a brain transplant.”

Floss, who was recently described by our mailman as a “good looking hound”, fares better in the looks department, but it wasn’t her fault she got run over – it was mine. I’d put her on the back of the ute, forgetting she got dizzily excited when other dogs were around, and she fell off.

Floss ended up with a pin in her leg and I spent weeks carrying her from her pen into the paddock to do her business. And boy, can dogs do a heap of business.

Then there was the time we scored half an enormous, rich double-recipe chocolate cake Rex’s mother had made (the recipe’s in the book). I was unloading the car and thought Floss had gone with the farmer to move cattle – until I discovered her licking her lips and most of the cake missing.

Chocolate can kill dogs; they react to theobromine which causes their hearts to race. The toxicity is strongest in dried cocoa, which makes cake dining a real danger. John the vet explained this after he’d administered something to make Floss throw up and while I walked her around the drain in the Vet Centre car park. Finally dear Floss barfed up steaming mounds of gooey chocolate cake. It looked as if the baking soda had continued to react in the cosy confines of her tum.

We’ll never know how she got the gaping hole in her chest, perhaps from barbed wire as she dived through a fence.

Then, after one of many follow-up vet visits, I left Floss in the car while I popped into a shop. On my return the contents of a box of paper staples I’d been meaning to give someone were strewn all over the place. Oh no! Had she eaten some? The vet told me to feed her cotton wool balls dunked in dog food. Any staples would, hopefully, get caught up in it and travel through her intestine.

The next day the farmer told me, with his nose turned up in distaste, that she’d deposited the cotton wool at, rather suitably I thought, the wool shed. As Floss looked healthy enough, I refrained from doing an inspection.

Her most recent damage was a cut foot and that ripped toe nail. Floss, Kate and Tony’s huntaway Tiny love running on the beach, but Floss is the only one who’s ever cut her paw and ripped a nail on an oyster shell.

Perhaps it’s because she’s the hare-brained ring leader who spurs them into their mad, joyful sprints.


About the author

Rae Roadley

Rae is a journalist, freelance writer and writing tutor. Soon after returning to her hometown to work for Northland's daily newspaper, she met beef and sheep farmer Rex Roadley. He lived in a historic home at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour and after moving there, Rae reported on farming then wrote a newspaper column, The Country Side. Her wryly amusing tales of country life earned many followers and led her to learn more about the local people, past and present. She tells the story of her new life in 'Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country'.