I took Luka to the vet to have her lips looked at. Mid fold on her lower jowls looked swollen. The vet confirmed she had an infection which is more common in dogs like my sisters pug, Egor, who has multiple folds cascading down his handsome face.
“Remember those poor kids in elementary school that had chapped lips from licking too much,” and rubbed her fingers over her top lip. I smiled and said “Yeah. I was one of those kids.” I didn’t tell her I was a top and bottom lip chewer. A brown crusty rim outlining my mouth like clown makeup. She smiled and grimaced, “It’s terrible, it hurts, they keep irritating it and it never heals… that’s similar to what is happening with Luka. I’ll give you a soap to clean it.”
I chewed my lips from the anxiety of being bullied in elementary school. My chapped lips made the taunts “What’s wrong with your face?!” louder. I would lick and suck til the scab grew taught and I’d stretch my mouth open wide, ripping the scab and start all over again. It was a long time before I became devoted to lip balm.
Faint top chap, more prominent on the bottom; it got worse as this school year progressed. I was a weird kid; comfortable in dark, strange and surreal spaces. I got big glasses later that year, was awful at team sports; I get overwhelmed in crowds or by people getting too physically close to me and being born in late December I was developmentally behind all my other classmates. The runt always trying to keep up. I was also excellent at cutting my own bangs. I’ve always been an outsider and allied with the fringe. I struggled with being left behind, that is, til I noticed there were others with me, who had kinder spirits and were more interesting than the kids up ahead.
She gave me the soap with instructions to scrub Luka’s voluptuous flews and dry them out well. If that doesn’t clear it up we could try antibiotics. I love that my vet has a cautious and considerate approach to my old hounds care. A little exfoliation, a spring cleaning is all it probably needs. Shed the dead, make way for the new.