Monday, August 3, 2009

Fiona & The Yellow Jackets

Sometimes life can be incredibly unfair. Like a couple of weeks ago when my intrepid girl, Fiona was tagging along with me as I did my garden chores, minding her own business. That's not the unfair bit...

I was working on the compost pile at the far end of the yard. The day was cool and pleasant; the dogs enjoyed snuffling around, sitting, and being in the sun. Rory was laying close by his beard and eyebrows being tussled by the breeze. Good day to be a dog or a Human.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I see Fi jump and start running full tilt, and that's when I see a swarm of...

...yellow jackets! I freaking hate them. Does anyone know what they're even good for, what is their benefit? They're mean just to be mean. Since they don't loose their stinger, they can keep stinging unmercifully. Fiona happened to walk near a nest in the ground and the scouts set out like crazy. She wasn't poking at it, or digging. She was simply in the area. That's the incredibly unfair part!

I ran after her, grabbed her collar and risked being stung as I swatted at yellow jackets tangled in her beard and skirt. Treacherous business for both of us! Fiona stood while I clutched repeatedly at her with a pleading, desperate look in her deep brown eyes. Once rid of all I could see, she booked it to the house as I swatted them down and stepped on the ones I could smash.

It was incredibly stressful. My girl got stung multiple times including on her paw pad when she either stepped on one as she was fleeing, or perhaps by a jacket taking any advantage it could.

When I finally caught up to her, she was plastered against the back door attempting to get to safety. She was shaking and holding her back leg up painfully. I picked her up and examined her closely. No welts were felt; I sat and rocked her for a long while as I sent Reiki energy through her. Actually, both of us as I was wired for sound at that point, too. Eventually the trembling stopped. Our breathing slowed. And, she seemed fine. She meekly gave me a wee kiss.

A couple of treats and a long rest in the cool kennel seemed to complete the magick of healing. Rory climbed in with her as though to comfort her. A short time later, she came looking for me. I was relieved when she wanted her dinner.

That evening, Michael took action when he got home. We waited till dusk when most of the swarm would be in for the night, and using gasoline, set it afire. It took several attempts. The nest had been built in the root system of a massive old pine. We took precautions. Dug it out. And left some hornet spray at the edges.

It's taken days, but the scouts have finally stopped coming there.

Now, here's my problem. Even though I was fairly certain that Fiona was all right with this experience, no after effects, fever, swelling, this or that, turns out she has been very injured. And, I'm sad for her.

Fi has the most delightful bossy, brave nature. She asserts herself in her domain and is quite sure of herself and the world around her. Except now, when she's out in her beloved yard, if any bug flies by, she runs for the door and stands there shivering. She is desperate to get back inside. And, how can you attempt to reason with an animal who doesn't have the power of language and reasoning at their disposal? You can't, really.

You can't explain to her that one afternoon, without doing anything to bring this on herself, she simply got caught on the bad side of a painful experience. Very painful. She didn't deserve it. She wasn't looking for trouble...she was just in the wrong place at a very wrong time.

I wonder how long it might take for her to get over this; I fret that she might never be the brave, plucky girl she was before it happened. Yes, in the scheme of things, it's a small thing which may never happen again. It hurt like hell, but it wasn't life threatening...just painful. Worse things could have happened.

But worse is a relative term isn't it?

My clever Scottie catches on quickly and she wants no parts of a possible repeat episode. Now she cowers in fear of anything that she thinks is the thing that hurt her. All flying things are painted with the broad brush of her fear and distrust. Not that the bugs care. But I do- for her. And for me. Because I loved her bold way of seeing the world and I'm sad that seems to have been snapped out of her due to a confluence of bad events.

So, I wonder...will my girl get over this new fear of hers? Do we? When something unexpectedly painful happens to we get over our fear of anything flying close to us afterward? And, how much do we allow it to close off our ability to live freely? How much do we limit our options out of fear of possibly being hurt again?

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Fiona's Mommer


Rose said...

Aw! Poor Fiona! I have a history of rehoming abused dogs. My old Kenny had suffered horrific abuse and when I first got him, if you uncrossed your legs he would across the room and wetting himself in fear. He wouldn't go anywhere near strange men but by the end of his life, yes he was a little kooky but you wouldn't know what he had been through...

My point of all this is that slowly, she will heal. She will come to understand that it was a one off and not likely to happen again. It may take a while....

miss*R said...

oh the poor sweet thing.. those wasps sound very similar to a wasp we have here..

maybe you could talk to a vet.. I know there is a vet here who is kind of like a dog counsellor, gives the owners tips when they have some problem with their dogs..

as to your question at the end... boy Holly, you sure do ask some deep questions,they certainly make me think :) xoxo

anne h said...

kiss kiss to the baby!
On one hand you have people who won't forget the "sting." On the other hand you have people who won't learn!

linda may said...

The poor little darling.
But I reckon time will heal her fear. Our little doggie was attacked by a big dog he chased. He has no idea he is such a little doggie! Anyway he nearly died, but he did get his mojo back and learned to be a little less cheeky with big doggies, well, hopefully, he still thinks jack russells are as big as german shepherds. He he.

Chester said...

I'm feel so bad for Ms. Fiona! Bad wasps anyway! Hopefully time and lots of lovin' will make the bad memories go away.

Chester ;0=)

Kyddryn said...

Aww...poor little sister! It seems even animals are not free from sudden onsets of chaos! Love and healing energy to her.

I'd wager she'll find her nerve again with the distance of time.

We're none of us immune to random events - some good, some distressing, some downright awful. I like to think the good balance out or even outweigh the bad, but I AM an optimistic pessimist.

I've had some fairly horrible experiences in my life - things I wouldn't wish on the worst of the people I've known. Yes, they made me...shy. Yes, they impacted how I view/ed the world, how I interacted, how I let people in.

Rather than damage, though, my history had enriched my present - I know what people are capable of in some horrid ways...and I know how beautiful they can be, too.

Once I became conscious of how my past shaped my present, I was able to choose - let the fear dominate or acknowledge the fear and get on with life anyway.

I'm getting on with it. Fear becomes a cage from which we cannot escape without struggle....but it can be escaped. I won't be caged.

I choose to trust, despite early lessons that trust is dangerous. It's also powerful, and a wonder when it's respected.

I choose to love, despite early lessons that love is a tool for manipulation and pain. It's also one of the kindest blessings one can share with another.

I choose to find the beauty in things, despite early lessons that beauty often hides rot. Even the ugliest of us has a light that shines bright, if one cares to look.

Optimistic who expects the worst but hopes for the best. I know what can happen, and I choose to live an open life, anyway, because anything less just isn't enough.

Despite early bumps in the road (well...some bumps, some mountains, a few pitfalls, and once I think there was even a troll under the bridge), my life's journey goes on, and if the way hasn't gotten easier, well...I've gotten stronger, and can carry my burdens and still lend a hand or shoulder to anyone else I meet along the way...and hope? Hope springs eternal...

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (who didn't set out to write a blog post in your comments, Mizz Holly - but she's not repentant enough to truncate it)

Alix said...

Damn bees!

Fiona has to be the cutest sweetest little dog ever. What a beautiful dog!

There is a bright side to this... Eventually, Fiona will get over the trauma of the experience (she really will), but her animal instinct will protect her from similar future events. It might seem as though her lovely spontaneous nature is ruined, but her confidence will come back. Remember... you know what happened - she doesn't. Give her a little time and she will bounce back. Meanwhile, is there anyone you can call to exterminate the nest? I'd volunteer to torch the hive just for the satisfaction of defending Fiona's honor!

Jan said...

Dear Holly,

I'm so sorry that Fiona had this unfortunate experience and that she's still fearful . . . . understandably so.

I'm hopeful, as others, that as time passes and this incident becomes a more remote memory, Fiona's fears will gradually decrease and she'll get back to being more like herself.

Hugs to you both (and to Rory)

cinner said...

Holly, sorry about Fiona. Those yellowjackets can be buggers, My two dogs try to eat them. It drives me crazy. Learn, not yet, I don't think they have been stung. Fiona will get braver again. Take care.

I'm Grace said...

Oh, I am so sorry to hear this happened. It will take some time but your baby will heal.

Helpful Buckeye said...

Holly (and Fiona)--
I was sorry to read about your dear Fiona's experience with the stinging insects. It sounds like you were pretty fortunate that she either didn't get stung very times or she didn't have much of an allergic response to the stings. My suspicion is that her long skirt and beard also helped to provide some protection from more stings.
You did the right thing in trying to calm her and keep her cool. The two additional things you might have done would have been to put some cold compresses on any of the swollen areas and possible apply a small amount of one of the meat tenderizers. The proteases in the tenderizer help break down protein structure, which is what would have been in the venom.
I think Fiona will want to get back into the yard sooner than you might expect. Offer her a few treats when she ventures forth and give her some of your soothing vibes....

Helpful Buckeye

Kavindra said...

Aww that breaks your heart.

I wonder if you gave her some rescue remedy just before you all went out for a little while, just until she can get over her fear, if that may help her get her bravery back?

I had a similar thing happen with a cat ~ she got out and into the yard next door and 3 huge dogs attacked her, and tho physically she was very lucky, she is still afraid to go out on her screened in porch even, which she used to love.

Now, your question got me thinking ~ where AM I doing the same thing in my own life? ...

Joanna Jenkins said...

Poor Fiona and poor you. I can see tell how worried you are. Damn bees!

You ask an interesting question about getting over things. Hopefully your beautiful pup will get her mojo back but it might not be until next summer. As for humans, getting over things..... All I know is that it's one day at a time before the guard slowly comes back down.

Sending you both "get better" kisses.


Sarah said...

Awww sweet Fiona..her sweet face seems so very sad. Poor baby..I guess maybe some retraining with bugs that will not hurt her. Scary at first but it might work. It will take time but she is a smart girl and will relax with time. Smooches to her!!
Your point about once burned. Yeah..there are issues in my life that still terrify me..make me run and shake in fear. I guess.. really life isn't worth the price of the ride if you don't get on at all. I try very hard to be brave...I don't always make it but I try.
Hugs to you Holly, Sarah

Suzie said...

Ooooh, that poor sweet baby! My heart goes out to her, not only for her horrible encounter, but for her fears, which are completely understandable!

Perhaps if you were to spend more personal, one on one time with Fiona outside, it would help. Play with her, with her favorite toys, or just spend time loving on her, petting her, giving her affection. Or perhaps take her for walks on a leash, away from the yard, but ending up with a casual stroll across it, the shortest distance to the door. Then add a little of the circumference, but avoid the area where the nest was. Take your cues from her, as to how comfortable she is, not to push her, but make her outdoor experiences pleasurable again. If you are relaxed and casual, she will pick up those energies from you too. Hopefully, all of these good moments will help push that bad memory further back, where eventually, she won't have it constantly on her mind.

As for us humans, I suppose a lot depends upon our own personalities, and what bad experiences we encounter. Also, what our own frame of mind happens to be in at the time. Like a lot of things, it is all a matter of degrees.

Also, if we never do completely get past a bad experience, that need not necessarily be a bad thing. We may view ourselves as survivors, who are not only wary, but wiser. A little wariness makes us alert, and not so blithly and blindly making the same mistakes.

Please keep us updated on Fiona's progress! I'm keeping you both in my thoughts!

Genie Sea said...

Awww poor sweetheart! :(

I am sure she will get over it soon. Dogs are more resilient that humans. We tend to hold onto our fears for eons.

clairedulalune said...

Poor Fiona, and poor you! What a horrible time you had! I'm sorry to hear how this has affected her, but the old cliche "time is a healer" will fit nicely in here.She will soon be fighting fit for the pesky yellowbacks!
As for ourselves, it would seem to be like a make or break situation there. I am starting to realise it more and more and then struggle to keep up sometimes with no fight in me. It's hard work,it seems to be creeping up on me recently, but if Fiona can do it, I am right behind her! Here is to better day for you and Fiona!

clairedulalune said...

Hello me again, I mean't yellow jackets! I just read my comment back and I don't even know what yellow backs are! my typing is horrid!

beth said...

poor fiona...

our sophie turned her head once too quickly while we were putting on her collar and got her neck pinched and to this day (2 years later) she still won't sit still while we put her collar on her...

they never forget...

and my best friend who only has rescue dogs, has one that was abused by its male owner and to this day...years and years later, still doesn't like men !

they never forget...

and my hubby did the same thing years ago while mowing our yard..stepped on a nest and got stung 4 times on his calf while running around and swatting at them...

fortunately he forgot...and still mows the yard :)

Momlady said...

Bloody bees...I don't of any use for them except to pour gasoline in their hidy hole and block the entrance. I don't even set fire to it, just pour a LOT of fuel using a funnel to make sure it gets in there deep. Had to do that to three underground nests last year. Luckily (knock on wood) I haven't had to do that this year. Although I'm not a "dog person" give Fiona a kiss on the nose for me and tell her I am sending healing thoughts her way.

Ribbon said...


Only the beautiful Fi can decide when and if she is ready to brave the yard again.
Time heals all wounds and it is up to the individual as to how they dress those wounds during the recovery period.
The only thing we do have some control over is our attitude.

Exercising control over our attitude is a skill and like anything in life with a little practise it gets easier with time.

love to you Holly and your lovely dogs.

x Ribbon

Doggie Blog said...

We hate wasps! Fiona, stay strong!~
Feel free to come recover on the beach with us!

Natalia & Tatiana~

Hybrid J said...

I'm so sorry to read that Fiona had such an unfortunate encounter. I'm sure with time she'll heal and get over the incident. But then it might worthwhile to try some "dog counsellor" who works with traumatize dog. Just my two cents of thought ... take care! ;)

Life With Dogs said...

An interesting take on how we all build our own walls. I suspect Fi will smash hers down in no time, once she has had a chance to realize that the sky is not loaded with invaders!

My name is PJ. said...

Poor Fi! We've rescued, rehabilitated and socialized dogs for the past 15 years and here's what I know: Her love for you is greater than her fear of bugs, so with a lot of time and your presence, she'll heal. She won't be like she was before though. We wouldn't be either, right? She'll never just sit and let something with a stinger buzz her. I don't myself. On the lighter side: Fiona and the Hornets....sounds a lot like Josie and the Pussycats to me. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Anonymous said...

Poor Baby!

Dog Twitterer ( said...

Oh dear, get better, Fiona, you poor girl.

I agree with the others who say time heals all wounds.

and, as the Dog Whisperer would say, don't make a big thing out of it. Just act like everything's normal and don't fuss over flying things.

Rocky Creek Scotties and Java said...

We are so sorry to hear about poor Fiona getting stung.

Please keep trying to explain it to her and let her know all is OK - someday she will understand. It takes time to heal.

Tessa said...

Oh, I could CRY for both you and Fiona. Beastly horrible stingers. Our dear, very old Labrador Sam once snuffled his way inadvertently into a line of Safari Ants who swarmed up over him, latching on with their vicious pincers. He was going stark mad with pain, careering round and round in circles and howling his lungs out when we found him. Quick thinking Guy turned on the hose full blast and that got rid of them PDQ. Sam was in a state for a few days, but he recovered eventually and went back to his snuffling ways without any signs of fear.

I'm certain that with all your love and soothing comfort will help little Fiona to regain her equilibrium. xxoo

Sweet Cottage Dreams said...

Awwwww....poor little Fifi!!!!!! I am so sorry that she got stung and know is hesitant and scared in her own yard. I hope that she will soon forget the nasty encounter. Bless her heart!!! The last photo she really looks like Duhgall through the face. Aren't those just the most expressive little eyes? Oh, and I love that black button bear-like nose!!!!

kisses and hugs to lil' Fiona!
HOWDY to Rory!

Duhgall and Fiona
and Maw Becky, too

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