The Dreaded Cone of Shame

Barkleah faces the Cone of Shame

In the past, I smiled at the phrase and wondered who first came up with such a term. Have you ever seen those poor doggies wearing a hard-plastic, cone-shaped collar, tight around the neck and flared out to extend the full length of their muzzle.  Three weeks is a long time to face the cone of shame. Barkleah, our fair-skinned Toy Fox Terrier, developed pre-cancerous lesions.  In discussing this condition, his dermatologist, his primary vet, and the surgeon all called this a very nasty disease that could travel into the body through  his veins and turn into deadly cancer in his internal organs.  His surgery occurred three weeks ago. We brought him home the same afternoon of his surgery. Drowsy from anesthetic, he slept the balance of the day. He appeared unaware of the dreaded cone tied around his neck. However, once awake and hungry, he attempted to push off the cone. The design is perfect for preventing the patient from scratching or biting the incision. It is NOT perfect for eating, drinking, or crawling into your favorite safe-haven, the beloved crate. Once Barkleah realized his predicament, a deeply sand gaze appeared in his eyes. The look could only be described as shame. His tearful stare, asking “What did I do wrong, Mommy? Being softies, Bill and I agreed it would be fine to remove the cone for meals, drinks, and time outside in the backyard. Wrong! Once the cone is removed, his short-stubby body raced under the bed and refused to come out. Knowing  this hideout as a safe room, once under the bed, cone removed, his tongue began to lick those itchy stitches. It took three cookies and two long armed adults, stationed on either side of the bed, to catch the escapee. For the next two weeks, he learned to survive with the cone. He eventually learned to eat and drink without banging the end of the cone, but sleeping was truly difficult. He became a recluse, hiding in the back of his crate and ignoring the world. Finally, one day nine, he woke up crying and shaking. I pulled him into my arms and rocked him for over an hour. He fell into a fitful sleep. I gently place him in our bed, between Bill and myself and rubbed his back as he slept. The following morning we put him into the car and drove to Pet smart. I had heard from a friend, that they had a soft inflatable collar that worked well on small dogs and could replace the cone. We were ready to try anything. The online reviews were great for small dogs, and less impressive for larger breeds.

Once home with the new collar, Barkleah’s  mood improved. The shame gone, he raced and jumped around the house. He turned the soft collar into a pillow for sleeping and he was still not able to reach his stitches. Wen we returned for his two week check-up, we were  excited to hear he was healing well. However, the news that he must remain the collar for another week was a huge disappointment. He continued to accept  this inflatable collar.  But on the last day of his three-week adventure, we removed his collar. If a dog could smile, he was grinning from ear-to-ear. He jumped for joy, raced around the entire first floor of  our home, and returned to give us his very best play-bow. The ordeal was over. We all survived. If you have a small dog who is facing the cone of shame, check into a soft collar. On a scale of one to five, five being all stars, it was wonderful.

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