Friday, March 11, 2011
One of the dandiest things about dogs is that they are always looking out for our survival — even if that means eating our toes.
Several dog owners have had the pleasure of finding this out firsthand, with the most recent being an Oregon man whose dog chewed off three of his toes last week.
James Little, 61, suffers from diabetes, a condition that makes his hands and feet numb, and he awoke up to find three of his toes gone, according to The Associated Press. The report notes his dog, a Shiba Inu, was acting on its instinct to do away with diseased flesh.
Evidently Little’s toes must not have been looking too good if his dog felt they were diseased enough to amputate. Although such a munch seems like it should be a healthy improvement, Little decided to show his appreciation by getting rid of the dog.
While dogs eating off parts of our bodies might sound gross — because it is — we have to realize the dogs are, in fact, performing a vital service and saving us thousands of dollars in hospital bills.
Two other dog owners realized the benefits of having personal surgical assistants when their pets, too, ate off parts of their feet. Both men insisted on keeping their medical marvels rather than shuttling them off the pound.
San Diego’s Frank Rose, 72, woke up on February morning to find several toes missing and blood on the face of one of his two small Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Rose’s nerve condition led to the amputation of one of his feet, NBC reports, and his remaining foot was already on its way to the same fate. His dogs just sped things up a bit.
A Michigan man’s dog helped him get a speedy medical diagnosis when he ate off most of a man’s toe last August while the man passed out drunk. Jerry Douthett, 48, woke up screaming when he realized a major part of his toe was missing, but he later lauded his dog Kiko as a hero, according to ABC News. The dog led doctors to discover Douthett had a bone infection in his foot stemming from undiagnosed diabetes.
Dogs don’t have to be underfed or rabid to make effective surgeons. Canines are born scavengers and the stench flesh starts to give off when it dies is an aroma they just can’t pass up. You go, doctor dogs.
But just like human doctors, doctor dogs can be a mite overzealous in their diagnosis — or even make the wrong diagnoses altogether.
Dogs are attracted to rotting flesh, but they are also attracted to blood.
“Dogs like to lick open wounds because it has blood sugar in it,” ABC quoted veterinarian Marty Becker, author of The Healing Power of Pets. Becker further explained how diabetic blood would have a high sugar level, making the blood even sweeter and more attractive — although any blood will do.
That’s when the misdiagnosis can come in, since dogs can get carried away when licking a wound, which could progress to biting or gnawing on the toe, Becker notes.
"If the owner didn't wake up, there'd be no deterrent to stop."
A 10-year-old Illinois girl found that out when she fell asleep with a sore on her left foot last December and woke up without any left toes.
Guess doctor dogs don’t always wait until human flesh is dead before they decide to eat it, a good reason to check if your dog has all his medical credentials — and a good reason to sleep in socks.
Ryn Gargulinski, aka Rynski, is a writer, artist, performer and poet. Her radio show airs every Wednesday and her column appears every Friday. See more writing and art from RYNdustries at ryngargulinski.com and rynski.etsy.com.