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Treating the canine klutz: keep two first-aid kits: one for the truck, another for the marsh.

SOME DOGS, MUCH like people, are accident prone. By the third or fourth visit to the vet for emergency care in his first year, I knew Remy was a canine klutz. The file of his bills was thicker than the paperwork from our first mortgage. But he's also a certified bird magnet, so leaving him home to avoid suffering was out of the question. Physical pain pales in comparison to his anguish at missing a morning afield.

Anticipating the next barbed-wire fence, porcupine quill or eye-infecting seed makes me prepare for the worst. Apart from having a few vet numbers saved to my cell, a pretty extensive first-aid kit goes with us everywhere.

The kit takes up an entire military ammunition can. It's not portable. This is a problem, because I know exactly how Remy works: The further we are from the truck, the greater the chance he's going to snag a rusty piece of farm equipment racing to catch a cripple.

For a guy who rarely gets the privilege of driving to a blind, portability is key in everything I use. This goes double for first-aid gear. The key is hauling must-have items that can serve double-duty, as well as stem an emergency long enough to reach the main kit back at the truck.

Super Glue: Ask a reputable veterinarian, and they'll tell you that using Super Glue to close a deep cut isn't advisable. On the other hand, when you're miles from the styptic powder pack and bandages in your main first-aid kit, that tiny bottle of adhesive can close a laceration just fine. The key is to thoroughly clean the wound before closing it. Even then, the field is a dirty environment, so any cuts should be checked by a vet as soon as possible to avoid infection.

Fresh Water: Our duck dogs swim and slop through putrid sludge. And from hydration to cleaning wounds to flushing eyes, using the same water that last duck was retrieved in for your pooch is a recipe for disaster. Toting at least one 20-ounce bottle of clean, fresh water afield is worth its weight in gold. Better yet, bring two.

Multi-tool: In the big first-aid kit, there's a hemostat, tweezers and two scissors. On my hip in the field is a Leatherman grandpa gave me when I was 12. I've used the needle-nose pliers to pull cactus spines from paws, the knife to cut a T-shirt into strips for a temporary sling, and the saw to hack a tree limb to size for a splint. Other than a shotgun, it's the one piece of equipment I've never left home without.

Parachute Cord: You'd be surprised how tightly six feet of parachute cord can bundle. You'll hardly notice it in a coat pocket. Good thing, because this wonder material is limited only by your imagination. It functions as a tourniquet, leash, conibear-removal and sling to name a few. Plus, it can muzzle and restrain a retriever while you begin the arduous task of removing porcupine quills. A belt works in a pinch, too.

If you can manage it, taking a smaller, portable first-aid kit on a hunt is preferred. But if you're like me and are already burdened by way too much gear, having the essentials can be enough to quell an emergency long enough to get proper care.

Trust me: If your dogs are anything like mine, it pays to be prepared.

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Title Annotation:RETRIEVER HEALTH
Author:Shoberg, Tyler
Publication:Wildfowl
Date:Sep 1, 2015
Words:572
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