Tag Archives: mastiff

Dixie and the Cone of Shame… The Adventures of an English Mastiff & Her Mom (Who Clearly Doesn’t Have Other Children)

I am the proud mama of two puppy-dogs, a terrier-mutt mix named Boudicca (named after the Warrior Queen) and an English Mastiff named Dixie. Both our girls are rescued – we got Boudicca from the pound and Dixie from Mastiff Rescue.

Boudicca (left) and Dixie (giant)

Today, I was able to pick up my baby girl Dixie (by baby girl, I mean my 135 lb, 6 year old English Mastiff) from the veterinarian. Yesterday, she had surgery to remove a diseased anal gland that has been infected and impacted for about six months or so. It is a terribly gross problem and if you have ever owned dogs, you have likely had to become familiar with their ickiness at least one time or another. After six months of antibiotics, compresses, and flushes, we decided it was time for surgery. The surgery was a success (so far), and she was kept over night for pain relief and observation. I passed the time by fretting and annoying the vet techs with regular check ins.

Poor Dixie. In addition to the pain and anxiety that comes with surgery, they further humiliated her by shaving her rump (they claimed it was for better access to the wound site, but I’m sure it was just for good comedy value). They also gave me a cone of shame to use if she licks at the wound site (she’s surprisingly agile when she’s itchy). If you’re unfamiliar with the cone of shame, here’s a great explanation from the film Up

Interestingly, they call the the Cone of Shame and Elizabethan Collar. I feel that this serves just to further humiliate the animal and owner. So now, when Dixie goes to bed or is left alone for a length of time, she must suffer this indignity (and I’m fairly sure I come closer and closer to death by justifiable dog mauling):

My Dog Dixie & the Cone of Shame (well, Neck Pillow of Shame)

On Monday, I noticed that my dog Dixie was licking her rear end a lot more than usual. As an english mastiff, this sound gets loud and quite gross very quickly. When I examined her rump, I noticed that the area was discolored and she was as ‘clean’ back there as she could be. I determined that the next morning, if it looked the same and she was still licking at it, that I would call the vet (Monday was July 4, a national holiday). Well, I got woken up all through the night by the perpetual licking sound and the next morning the area looked much worse. I was worried that she had an impacted or infected anal gland. While disgusting, if you have ever had a dog, you know the importance of working anal glands. When my vets office opened at 7:30 am, I gave them a call. My vet is fabulous, his name is Dr. Bearden located in Benbrook, TX. He knows our dogs well, their personalities, histories, temperaments, and he tolerates my calling him frequently over silly issues. Yes, I love my dogs. I love my dogs in the way that only a childless woman in her thirties can. They booked me an appointment for 10:00 that morning.

So, off to the vet we went. Now, one thing about both of my dogs is that they love going to the vet. All of it. You say vet and their ears perk up and they run up to their leads. They love the car ride, they love the smells, they love the people. I think what they really love about the vet is that he gives them a thorough exam, and they love physical affection (in terms of petting, patting, rubbing, etc). They also just love all people and they get to meet quite a few at the vet. He did a full exam on Dixie and determined that she didn’t have an impacted anal glad **phew** but rather a ‘hot spot.’ A hot spot is generally a patch of irritated skin that the dog makes worse by licking and scratching. He said they would take her in the back, shave her down, clean it up, apply some topical anesthetic to get her some relief, and empty her anal sacs (good times).

So, he brought Dixie back looking like this:

With the fur fully removed, you could really see the skin irritation! Poor Dixie. The doctor gave me some topical steroids, oral antibiotics, and a round of oral steroids. The vet said that if she kept licking, then she would have to be put in a cone of shame 😦

The next two nights, I was woken up to hear her slurping up a storm. I got up several times to get her to stop (she didn’t do it during the day). After the second day, I decided it was time to get the cone of shame. However, the Vet tech suggested that, since she would primarily be sleeping in this, I should try one of the inflatable collars as they’re more comfortable (but don’t provide quite as much protection). So, I went out bought Dixie a neck pillow of shame and a squeaky panda bear at the local Petsmart.

So, we tried it on her briefly and she looked okay:

However, now that it’s bedtime, it’s neck pillow of shame time and she is not happy. She just looks depressed!

She keeps pacing around the room, trying to get comfortable. She also keeps walking over to me, seemingly wanting to get it taken off. She is unhappy. Only a few nights of this girl, you can do it! It’s better than the alternative (the cone of shame) if you rip, tear, or otherwise escape the neck pillow shame.

Obligatory Post About my Dogs

If you have known me for more than five minutes, then you know that I have dogs – two of them. I talk about them constantly. It’s a little sad. I love my dogs in a way that only a childless woman in her thirties can. They are my children. I take pride in their accomplishments and good behavior. I beam when the groomer gives them a good behavior report or the vet tells me that they’re healthy. I train them to do funny tricks. They sleep in our bedroom. My husband has come to tolerate my dog loving behavior and I think that he also finds them endearing.

I grew up with dogs and have always loved them. Dogs are amazing creatures and human beings have a unique relationship with them. Anywhere that you find people, you find domesticated dogs. You cannot say that of any other creature (sorry cats).

So now that I have you as a captive audience, let me tell you about my dogs. The oldest is a terrier-mutt mix named Boudicca. She is named after the Iceni Warrior Queen. We got her from the pound. She was sitting quietly in her kennel when we took her out and then took her home. She’s an inquisitive, sweet, and smart little thing. She is seriously smart. Now, I’m not saying this because I’m her ‘mom.’ Nope, because I’ll readily talk about how ‘simple’ my other dog is. Boudicca just has that spark you find in mix-breeds. She learns quickly, reasons things out, and if you’re not careful, she will ‘train you’ as my sister found out when she was house sitting.

Sometimes, I think that the only thing that holds her back is her lack of opposable thumbs. Sometimes, I use this to my advantage. I’ve got her trained to do entertaining tricks like play dead when I “shoot” her or open the door to her kennel. Other times, she drives me crazy when she figures out how to open doors or burrow in to restricted areas. I still can’t believe that she was tossed out on the street to fend for herself. She’s such a loving and sweet dog.

My other dog is Dixie. Dixie is an English Mastiff, the largest dog breed in existence. She is also a rescue and we got her with the assistance of Great Plains Mastiff Rescue. She is a very loving, docile, gentle, and sweet dog. However, all of those years of in-breeding have not made her the most… mentally agile of creatures. Sweet… yes. Clever… not so much. She quickly gets confused and looks to us to fix the scary, confusing world – i.e. if you close the door slightly on her kennel and then instruct her to kennel up, she can have a drastic anxiety attack.

In spite of her massive size (132 lbs at her last vet appointment), she seems to forget that she is ginormous and can easily be intimidated by the world around her. She has an embarrassing fear of cats – she will cower and hide in their presence.  Raising your voice in her presence will make her hide in her kennel. A bad thunderstorm will send her to the closet. When I walk her down the street, mothers take their children inside in spite of my reassurances that she is the most child-friendly dog on the planet.

In spite of the massive size difference (Dixie is a good 100 lbs larger than Boudicca), the two get along quite well. Boudicca is clearly the boss and Dixie spends her days trying to please her. They start out every morning with a wrestling match in the bedroom – a bit noisy at 6:30am. They play chase, they nuzzle, and they roll around. Yes, there’s a bit of a competitive streak (especially when we have a visitor at the house), but the two get along swimmingly.

Okay, so here are some obligatory videos – yep, I video my dogs and post them on YouTube.

This is a video of our last snow-fall. It highlights Dixie’s “simple nature,” but also how happy she is in life:


Here are the girls running around the backyard.


Here’s one of their training sessions (and my husband being super tolerant).