I don't want to be crippled, cracked
Shoulders, wrists, knees and back
Ground to dust and ash
Crawling on all fours
--- Radiohead, "Bones"
So last night I got home from the Hangout rather late for a workday. As soon as I came in the door, though, I saw something was wrong with the Dog. She was keeping her right front paw up at all times, not just favoring it a bit but actually hopping to avoid touching it to the ground. I put my hand on her side to draw her in closer to check it out, and she whimpered grievously and fell on her back. She started panting heavily, and I thought her body was hot. A quick inspection revealed three small wounds on her leg. She must have gotten them on her evening walk (my father comes over to take her while I'm gone.)
Now as a rule I'm not that big of a worrier about animals' health, since they seem to shake off injury much better than people. Had Dog had only the limp, I would have just gone to sleep and seen how she was in the morning. But this whimpering, apparent fever, and excessive panting gave me pause; I thought about snake or rat bites, of poison and infection. So after a bit of deliberation, I drove her up to the all-night emergency vet clinic. I couldn't find it at first, and it was about 2:00 in the morning when I took her in. But as we waited in the lobby, I noticed that Dog seemed to be doing a bit better. The only vet on call was deep in surgery and would be for the next two hours, the receptionist told me.
So, feeling a bit silly, I took Dog back home. As I walked her back to the house, we passed a lizard scurrying up a wall, and the Dog leaped up after it; that's when I knew I had made the right decision. She was fine, the little faker. I had some canine pain meds left from when the vet prescribed her some earlier, so gave her a couple. Then I went to bed, close on to 4:00 a.m.
In the morning, she was right as rain, bounding around on all four paws with great energy. While I was at work, my father did me a favor and took Dog to the vet. They didn't have any clue what had caused the injuries --- even professionals don't seem to have any animal husbandry these days. However, they gave him some antibiotics, a good precaution.
As to what caused all that panting, the fever, and the whimpering, I'm not sure. Possibly she was scared and worried more than in pain. And then, I had been gone since 10:00 that morning, returning only after midnight, so the Dog might have worked herself up into a frenzy of worry. My own consternation and anxiety upon seeing her probably had a lot to do with it, too; dogs are extremely sensitive to human's moods, inflections of voice and even chemical balances. In any case, all those symptoms were gone by the next day, and she tore up the distance on her evening walk today with enormous energy.
As for me, I was really damn tired all day.