A Collar By Any Other Name

“It looks like ca-ca,” said the vet. I was astonished. I’m accustomed to hearing my dogs’ medical professional use four-syllable Latin phrases to diagnose various ailments and conditions. The more Latin, the higher the fee is likely to be.

“Ca-ca” is not Latin. I later looked it up in a contemporary slang dictionary to make sure that I understood—though I was pretty certain from the veterinarian’s tone of voice.

Daphne, my eleven-year-old black lab mix, is recovering from her second surgery this year. Right away you’re probably asking if it’s humane to subject an aging dog to intrusive medical procedures. But Daphne is lively and happy. She has a healthy heart and lungs; she easily keeps up with her four-year-old kennel mate, Tawny.

It’s just that Daphne’s body has been producing strange lumps and bumps of late. Last summer, when she had a cancerous toe amputated, she recovered quickly and fully. This time it was a lump on the same rear leg. I didn’t quite catch the vet’s original Latin diagnosis, but the lump—which proved not to be cancer—was infected and had to be removed. No big deal, except the surgical site on the lower leg didn’t provide a lot of extra skin to hold the sutures.

While the post-surgical wound may look like “ca-ca” at this juncture, the vet assures me it is healing, albeit much slower than we’d like. It’s vital that Daphne not fuss with the bandage or lick the wound, as dogs are wont to do. Thus proper terminology is called for, especially in the realm of assistive technology—devices that help people (and dogs) work around their challenges.

Daphne is not, I repeat NOT, wearing a so-called “cone of shame.” She’s wearing what is properly referred to as an “E-collar,” short for Elizabethan collar, so named because it resembles those weird ruffled collars that the first Queen Elizabeth favored. Really? Did Elizabeth have a predilection for licking herself?!

The sobriquet “cone of shame” emanated from the movie “Up,” which otherwise was a fine bit of entertainment. I may seem overly sensitive about this, but we don’t make fun of people using assistive technology, such as wheel chairs and hearing aids. Thus the Youtube video, “Funny Cone of Shame Compilation,” is not funny. Well, maybe a little funny. Like the dog lying on its back sucking spaghetti swirled within its cone, or the little dog that figured out how to twirl a ball around inside the cone, then catch it in her mouth.

Daphne has adjusted well to the cone—er, collar—despite bumping into things on a regular basis. I had to remove the glass-topped coffee table from the living room. Mostly she bumps into me. An affectionate dog, she simply wants to nuzzle.  But that sharp-edged cone slamming into my thigh hurts me more than it hurts her. I’m hoping my bruises won’t start looking like “ca-ca.”

Daphne with e-collar
No shame, no pain, especially with a chew toy for comfort

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