Early on Wednesday evening I was relaxing outside, with Molly, our shipoo (a posh mongrel), sitting on the grass near me. It was a lovely sunny evening with not a cloud in the sky and not a sound but for an occasional car passing on the nearby road, the occasional cheep of a young blackbird waiting to be fed and the splashing of my ducks in the burn. Molly suddenly tried to bite something off her front paw. Two or three bites, a shake of the head and a small bumble bee flew through the air, landing a few feet from her. She gave a yelp and came limping towards me, carrying her front left paw. I knew she had been stung in the leg, but checked her mouth just in case she had been stung there as well. No sign of any sting or swelling so, though I felt sorry for the present discomfort she would be in, I thought it would pass fairly quickly.
She sat under my seat, giving an occasional whimper, then within a few minutes of being stung, started to be sick. This was immediately followed by diarrhoea and by this time I was really worried for the wee soul. It got worse. She lay down, then rolled over on her side. I went to her and she was unconscious, with no more than five minutes having passed since she was stung.
I lifted her up and shouted to my wife we would need to go to the vet. As I lifted Molly there was a long drawn-out yowl from deep within her and I thought she was dead. Nevertheless we got her in the car, Jan still in her slippers and holding her, and I set off for the vet on the outskirts of Perth, thankfully just five minutes away. I got Jan to keep moving Molly to test for life and thankfully, half-way in the road, Molly’s tongue came out and she started panting.
The vet saw her as soon as I went into the surgery and gave her an intravenous injection of cortisone, another injection in the scruff of the neck for any infection, and an antihistamine tablet. Molly was still groggy in the surgery but I was happy then that she would live. Her restlessness, diarrhoea and sickness continued into the evening but by about 10.00 pm she was beginning to settle down.
Next day Molly managed to have breakfast but was unusually quiet during the day, only really coming back to her usual self a full 24 hours after being stung. It was a real fright for us and as happy an ending as was possible.
Molly had clearly suffered anaphylactic shock, a condition that can sometimes be fatal. My mistake was in not looking for the bumble bee sting immediately and removing it, as while it was embedded in her paw it would continue pumping poison into Molly’s body. We all learn by mistakes but in this case mine could have resulted in the loss of our 18 month-old dog.
The irony, of course, is that for years we have been making our garden bee-friendly and I’ve just planted out another area with perennials suitable for bees. We also rescue four or five from the conservatory every hot day. They just have no gratitude………………..