One night i called the dogs in and only Cashew came. I knew immediately that something was wrong because Cashew was my wild child. She was the one who bucked the system. She was the one who stayed out all night and had me traipsing through the grass in the dark with a lantern, wearing pajamas and boots. She was the one who always thought we were playing a fun game when i had to chase her down to bring her in so i could go to work. Sili was my homebody, my couch potato. She was the one i had to push out the door to get some exercise because all she really wanted to do was nap at the base of my rocking chair. If Cashew came and Sili did not, she was either injured or dead somewhere. I quickly threw on my boots and grabbed the lantern and my favorite machete. I flung open the door to go look for her and then i saw her, limping towards the house ever so slowly. I searched her body for blood but found none. I wondered if she had broken or twisted something. I had to get her inside so i could properly examine her. I carried her up the stairs of the porch. I laid Sili down on the floor in the house. I held the lantern up to her, examining all her legs closely. I could not see anything abnormal. I could not see anything there. Cashew watched quietly from the corner of the room. Sili licked one of her paws constantly and refused to put weight on it. I could not get her to stop licking the leg and eventually i was forced to put a cone over her head to prevent her from creating an open sore. At first i thought it was a sprain, that she would recover if we just left it alone. However, 5 days later she was still refusing to bear weight on the affected leg. For the life of me, i couldn’t understand what she had gotten herself into. Then one day i noticed something tiny, sharp, and beige sticking out of Sili’s paw. As i touched it she began shaking and whimpering. Though i wasn’t touching her any longer she continued to shake. She appeared to be in shock or having some kind of pain response. I went to the tool box and grabbed my pliers. I pulled the tip of the little beige thing out of her paw. I couldn’t beleive what i was looking at!
It was a brown and beige needle-like spine. It had been stuck in her leg all this time! It had really been wedged deep in there. Sili began walking on it immediately after i removed the spine. She was so grateful she kept licking my face. I began googling animals with needle-like spines but it would get me nowhere. It wasn’t part of an animal. It was a defense mechanism for a cactus.
What i did not realize was that Cashew had gone through the cactus patch as well. Her paws and rump were full of spines wedged deep in her tissue and she hadn’t said a word this whole time. Cashew had a much higher pain tolerance than Sili. I could barely get a hold of the tips of the needles with the pliers to pull them out of her foot. They had almost disappeared completely under her skin. I couldn’t beleive it. Sili, my sensitive one, had come to me for help with 1 cactus spine. Cashew was riddled with them and never said a word. After all the spines were removed from both dogs i released them into the yard with the words “watch for cactus”…words they would not heed; words i would have to repeat many times in the future.