I’m Wearing This Cone To Better Empathize With My Dog
Regardless of species, nature shows us time and again that mothers will sacrifice everything for their children. Although I am not the birth mother of my purebred border collie, Mrs. Hootihans, by virtue of being an adopted mother, we all know I’m better then whoever that bitch was who pooped my baby out. Recently, a tragic licking disorder led Mrs. Hootihans to literally tongue her paw down to the bone. My vet insisted that she wear a doggie cone for six weeks as she is healing, and since I am the best mother I (or anyone else) can be, I am wearing one, too.
A cone can be uncomfortable for a dog. Impinging on a dog’s peripheral vision is no laughing matter, and it turns out it’s even worse for humans! The first lesson I learned while wearing my cone is you cannot drive. The second thing I learned is that Uber drivers make fun of you if you’re wearing a cone, even after you explain you’re doing it in solidarity with your dog.
One thing both Mrs. Hootihans and I struggled with during our first week being coned was adequate nutrition. Tossing her home-baked kelp treats only led to despair on both of our parts: hers because the treat had slipped to the side of her head where she could not reach it, and mine because I could not see what was going on.
Meal times were even worse. While Mrs. Hootihans solved the problem of eating around the cone by simply going directly facedown into the bowl, I struggled to reach my breakfast of French-style scrambled eggs with the same method. I wagged my tongue vigorously, trying to reach for even a morsel, but I was unsuccessful. Eventually, I had to ask my personal assistant, Jambon, to drop individual pieces of egg directly into my mouth as I held my face straight up. Mrs. Hootihans seemed to find this amusing and stole several eggs that bounced off my cone due to Jambon’s poor aim. You’d think, as I am being so empathetic to her needs, she could try being empathetic to mine.
We moved into week three of our mutual coning with profoundly different attitudes. Mrs. Hootihans seemed to be adapting well to life with her cone, but I continued to struggle. As I watched her (by tilting my head down far enough) play despite her barrier, I realized her attitude was beautiful. To a dog, life is just life, and there are always joys to counter any unexpected obstacles (unless, I found as I tried to frolic with her, the obstacle is a brick pillar, and you slam into it in the midst of a carefree swan leap).
As I adapted to my disc-shaped point of view, I began to wonder if I had truly gained any more empathy for Mrs. Hootihans’s struggles. As we walked to the pedigree-only dog park, it dawned on me that she remained as popular as ever. Despite her cone, other dogs surrounded her on arrival, jumping with delight and eager for adventures. By contrast, I was left alone in the middle of the field, no humans within 10 yards. I think. It’s extremely hard to tell without peripheral vision. Either way, it’s hard to feel like she isn’t taking advantage of her privilege as a dog by romping without me.
Overall, I think wearing a cone to empathize with my dog was an excellent decision. While Mrs. Hootihans and I have discovered some sharp differences in our personalities, the bond of mother and child goes beyond her being an entitled little shit who can adapt to partial blindness with ease while it takes me six minutes to put on underwear. Still, I’ve learned the valuable lesson of finding the fun in any situation. Even more useful, I’ve learned how to type this entire article resting my head on my laptop so I can see the screen.
Images: Pixabay, Jessica Ellis