Get at me Dawg

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

-Mark Twain

Does anybody know how to get bloodstains out of hardwood, carpet, brick, and so on?

I'm asking for a good reason.

Last weekend, I gave my dogs dinner - one inside, one outside (as always) - and headed out for the evening.

I got home around midnight and could distinctly hear two dogs roaming around as I unlocked the door.

Odd, I thought.

Then I stepped in something wet?

Equally odd. (Not to mention disgusting.)

My dogs don't have "accidents."

For one thing, I'd only been gone a few hours. For another, they have bladders the size of Rhode Island.

Then I flipped on the light switch to find myself standing in a pool of blood...confronted by a couple canines who looked like refugees from the set of Cujo.

I stood there in shock for at least a minute. Clearly I'd stumbled across either an abbatoir, or a grisly crime scene.

Nothing was missing though.

HBO was on their television. (They were watching Six Feet Under, in fact.)

Eventually, I discovered the source of the carnage.

Which was the new dog door.

It was really, really new, because we didn't have a dog door when I left for the night.

I always think of dog doors as something of an invitation to burglary-despite the fact that I already have a high triple-padlocked fence, an alarm system, and (on my wish list) a small, purse-size "stinger" (Prada's shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missile launcher for the single gal - sure, they're a little retro, but that's probably why they're so cheap).

It's not that I really have anything anybody would want (believe me); and I don't live in a high-crime district (unless you count drug trade, and these days, nobody seems to)...but I did have a very persistent stalker, and one break-in, in the 90s.

Don't get me wrong; I'm no David Letterman. I never come home to any misguided readers hanging out in my living room eating Chex Mix.

But I don't want to either.

If there are two things I really value, it's privacy...and munitions.

But on reflection, I think I may've gone a bit overboard on "security measures."

And that's how this all got started. When I locked myself out of the house a few weeks ago. In the backyard. In my pajamas. In four degree weather.

Still half-asleep, I had wandered out back to feed the pups. Martha, the primary dog, eats outside. Travis, the emergency backup dog (Martha's "bitch" as he's known around the yard), eats inside.

Martha was half-dead from starvation when I rescued her, and she's never gotten over the impulse of seeing everything as potential food (assuming, as Dave Barry would say, if it turns out not to be food, she can always throw it up later).

Anyway, this particular morning, I slammed the door between the two of them (as I do every morning) - before she could get at him (and his breakfast)-only I landed on the wrong side of the door, as it clicked and locked ominously behind me.

Of course, this happened on a deadline day, and I didn't really have time to screw around, contemplating how I might circumvent all the security measures from inside the fence. So I quickly busted in, then called to say I was running late.

Later, I "repaired" the door the way any self-respecting white-trash would: I "mended" it with some duct tape and a little plywood. (Though in my defense, the brick didn't leave a big hole, and nobody EVER sees that room but the dogs. Which means anybody who does see it probably isn't going to be around long to say much about my housekeeping skills.)

Still, it posed just enough of a chink in the fortress for Martha to sense food on the other side; shatter the entire mess; and nearly sever her head in the process.

Worse, I noticed that her injuries had left her appetite undeterred-since I discovered while assessing her lacerations that her stomach was about the size of a basketball (meaning she'd dispatched both their dinners).

So I had two problems. 1. Treating her wounds, and 2. Diagnosing bloat.

I have my vet's home number (along with his assurance that I'm welcome to use it in an emergency), but to me, that's a sacred trust, not to be abused (much like my mechanic's cell number) - and by this time, it was 1 a.m. Way too late, even for a saint like him.

So I hauled Martha into the tub and began hosing her down with every antiseptic I could find-while simultaneously dialing my Uncle Don, who'd trained me extensively in amateur veterinary care during my entire childhood.

He paused at least once to question the wisdom of me exposing my jugular while applying caustic chemicals to a wounded animal twice my size in my shower, but she never so much as whined.

Once he'd refreshed me on the crash course of treating bloat (which necessitated a trip to the basement for a garden hose, and again, the ubiquitous roll of duct tape), I threw a tarp over the bed, and then wrestled her into a Yale University alumni sweatshirt (leftover from a boyfriend I never much liked, it made a decent bandage), before we both collapsed, exhausted.

She eyed the hose suspiciously all night long, but mercifully, I didn't have to use it.

And by morning, she was obviously improving, having clawed her way out of the indignity of being a dog in a sweatshirt. Either that, or she's a Harvard girl at heart.