A FEW weeks ago there was a terrific ringing and knocking at my front door. I heard an excited voice in the hall and presently the young son of a friend rushed into the room breathlessly, exclaiming to me that the cook had upset a kettle of boiling water over the dog and that the poor beast was shrieking in agony.
Would I come round and put him out of his misery. I put morphia syringe into my pocket, rushed to the potting shed, snatched a pair of old gardening gloves and a length of stout string, rushed back to my study and put a few bottles into my pocket and ran with my young friend to their house, which is a few hundred yards away. I found quite a crowd round the garden gate, attracted by the piercing, agonizing cries of the dog.
I was led into a roomy kitchen and under the pastry cupboard crouched the poor animal almost shrieking his life out. His eyes sparkled threateningly and he looked absolutely demented. I tore off my coat and bound it round my left arm and hand, tore the roller towel from its roller and twisted it round my right arm and hand, got on my knees and fetched out the dog, who, as I had anticipated shrieked still louder and fought and bit furiously. He would have torn my gloved hands to pieces, had I not protected them further.
The dog was well known to me, a nice looking so-called Airedale, probably a mongrel, normally a jolly, sporty, intelligent and most lovable dog. His pain had driven him practically mad. I looked at his back. A patch as large as two hands was badly scalded.
I held the dog as tightly as I could and told the boy to take out of my side pocket the string and wind it rapidly round the dogs jaws, thus constructing a kind of emergency muzzle. Happily he succeeded, and when that was accomplished there was a length of a few feet which was wound around his neck and chest and tied, so that he could not slip off the string and tear us to pieces.
I had to make up my mind in a moment whether to put him to sleep with a morphia injection, or to treat him medicinally. A glance at his anxious master and the pale with stress settled the matter. “Give me a saucer and a clean handkerchief.”.
Similia similibus curantar. Like cures like. A burn causes blistering of the skin. So does contact with the stinging nettle, and Cantharis, the Spanish fly, is a classic remedy used for raising blisters. I had put in my pocket a bottle of Urtica urens, or stinging nettle, mother tincture and a bottle of Cantharis. Cantharis is the stronger medicine and should be used only in the more desperate burns.
The burn of the dog was serious by its extensiveness rather than by the depth to which skin and flesh had been injured. I poured a tablespoonful of the Urtica tincture into a saucer and poured on to it four or five tablespoonfuls of warm water from the tap, soaked a clean handkerchief in it, pressed it out slightly, and put it on the back and side of the struggling and fighting dog.
Mental treatment is in all cases as important as physical treatment. I had not been handling the dog in silence but had talked to him quietly and soothingly and encouragingly all the time. Although the dog looked still terrified and maddened with pain, the dangerous glistening had disappeared from the eye. His expression looked more normal. The first touch of the wet handkerchief caused him to shriek, possibly with pain, possibly with terror, but, after a few minutes, he quietened down and collapsed on the kitchen table, on which we had dressed him, and groaned quietly. At one moment I thought that he would die from shock.
I opened my pocket case, took out a few pilules of Carbo vegetabilis 30, an excellent remedy in collapse, and put them in his mouth and presently he revived. We then added another handkerchief soaked in the mixture, found a piece of oiled silk with which I covered the handkerchiefs, and secured them with a bandage wound round and round fastened by a safety pin.
By now the dog had quietened down so that we could loosen the string muzzle. I gave him a few drops of the Urtica mixture by the mouth and told the people to give him further doses every hour or so, but to change over to Cantharis 3x if the dog should start discharging urine coloured with blood and have pain in his bladder.
When I left, the dog seemed quite comfortable and he looked gratefully at me and licked my hand. The bandage was not renewed, but the handkerchief was moistened with Urtica solution every few hours. After three days the coverings were taken off from inspection and it was found that healing had begun. Not a single blister had formed except in a small corner which had been covered by the handkerchief.