Of all the posts I wanted to write today, this was not the one. We’ve had an awesome wild week of outdoor activities, impromptu forest visits, hedgehog home building and stone-age workshops but those articles now lie unfinished for a later date. This one’s about the dog. And not the Dogs of the Wild or Countryside Code posts in draft form either. It’s about sticks.

As I write, our beloved hound is under general anaesthetic at the vet because I threw a stick for him.

Black-and-white-dog-with-pale-brown-dog-playing-on-grass
Fidgie as a puppy being put in his place by my parents’ dog Alfie

It’s not life threatening but he somehow ran on or into it while I was helping Caroline collect conkers and his screams of agony brought the occupants running from two houses at the end of the field we were in. There was a lot of blood and he was limping badly though it turned out not to be a paw or leg injury but a deep gash in his chest near the armpit. A good 5cm x 3cm wound, probably as deep, which the vet says needs deeper investigation due to the limping in case he’s damaged or severed a nerve cluster in the area.

chest-of-black-and-white-dog-showing-wound-near-right-shoulder
Not a great pic as both he and I were shaking – a pretty gruesome gash

It didn’t look deep enough to have reached a lung but we await a post-surgery call.

So I’m posting to say please, please, PLEASE DON’T THROW STICKS FOR YOUR  DOGS.

I’ve owned dogs for 20 years and before that had a family dog for 15 or 16 years and we have always thrown sticks for them if balls aren’t available. Slate me if you want. I’ve heard all the warnings, read the reports (laughed at some of them; what dog owner doesn’t throw their dog sticks? Well, me for one now), and even spent a few months trying not to throw sticks when Fidgie was a puppy, to wean ourselves off the practice before it became second nature to him. But as a wild family we are often in the middle of nowhere and more often in a wood, not very often with a ball. So we grab the nearest thing which is usually a stick.

I suppose in 35 years of dog ownership one such injury isn’t so bad. What a ridiculous thing to say – it’s horrific for poor Fidgie and a sharp lesson for me in ownership responsibility.

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Having a snuggle after a long walk on our September camping trip

I’ll keep you posted about my little man’s recovery but PLEASE help get the message across that stick throwing for dogs is really dangerous.

Here’s a great alternative to throwing real sticks, much safer and really durable too – the Kong Dog Stick Toy.

**UPDATE** Massive thanks to Alnorthumbria vets. Fidgie’s got to stay in overnight due to needing heavy sedation for pain after the operation. The stick went in 5 or 6 INCHES but missed the lung as far as they can tell. They won’t know until tomorrow if it damaged the nerve cluster though initial signs are that it’s OK. I just went back for the stick. On the one hand it looks like any other I’d throw for him at any time. On the other it looks like a spear and I’m incredulous that I never saw a stick as a potential weapon like this before. It is not a thin stick. It has a sharp point at the end. I can’t stress enough people, just don’t risk it, NEVER throw sticks for dogs.

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I am eternally grateful it missed his lungs