Anyone who knows me knows that I am silly about my dogs. I’m a dog person. When things are right with my dogs, things are right. I have companionship, loyalty, love and warm feet all rolled into these creatures that think I am the best person ever in spite of the fact that they are with me all the time. I have my own personal trainer in Sasha who enthusiastically needs to be walked – a lot. I have amusement in Pepper’s extreme skills at laziness. They’re cute, and beautiful, and kind, and mine.
But when things go wrong with a dog, they can go very wrong. I haven’t written about it as it was still pretty raw, but Sasha had a brush with death over the Saturday after the New Year’s holiday. We had overslept a little and when we got up, there was no Sasha there ready to greet us. Odd. I called for her on my way out of the bathroom, and she whimpered and moved – she was under our bed, which she never does. We thought at first she had gotten stuck under there and hadn’t wanted to bother us, but when we called for her she shimmed out easily and laid flattened out of the floor, eyes pleading for us to help her. We had no clue what was wrong. We took her outside, and she would walk some and then stop and cough and gag and then made some terrible whining and choking sounds. I called the vet. They told us they were booked out, as there was a backlog after the holiday and only one vet in, since it was the weekend. Then they heard her gurgled cry over the phone and said to bring her down right away, they’d figure out how to see her.
Here is Pepper trying to make a spot for herself next to Sasha on the couch.
Our vet is great. He has partners but we usually bring our dogs to this same vet, and he was on duty when we arrived. He poked around and decided to X-ray her. If I had been thinking I would have snapped a picture of that X-ray on my phone but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time. The X-ray found that she had something roundish and fairly big, an inch all the way around, lodged exactly at the juncture between her esophagus and trachea. He had only seen this once before, and it was bad. He didn’t have the equipment at the clinic to support breathing if it shifted and blocked her airway – and if we drove her to the big Vet hospital in San Antonio, it could shift while we were on the road and she’d die that way too. If he tried to go in by mouth and move it himself, it was slippery and could go the wrong way. If he opened her up surgically from the front of her throat he would compromise her airway possibly forever. Can’t leave it safely, can’t move it safely, and can’t be sure what to do since we couldn’t tell the future. She was panicked, and now we all were too. The vet teared up with us.
We thought and discussed and prayed for a moment, and we decided to ask him to go in by mouth and do what he could, and we wouldn’t hold it against him if it went badly. We had to try, and so a plan was made. We were sent off to wait and pray, and they prepped her for the scope and sedated her. Walking out as they were working on her was very sad- the staff, the vet, all were visibly upset about the situation Sasha was in.
It was a success. When she was sedated, most likely, she relaxed just perfectly and it moved out of her airway. It went down into her stomach, and so we didn’t get to see what ever it might have been, but from the Xray we suspect it was the last of a chunk of rawhide chew. Her esophagus and trachea were torn up and bleeding, but the obstruction was gone. Hallelujah! It was a very different scene when we came back than when we left her. It was a party – and the vet declared this a best case scenario. He told us then that the only other time they’ve seen something similar, that the other dog died. She had to go on medication to help her heal and was placed on a restricted diet and sedation for five days. We were able to take her home.
So things changed for Sasha that day. She hasn’t been allowed on the furniture,
Sleeping on the couch. Life is good.
since she is a big, shedding dog. Well, when she got home that day she was invited up to sleep on the couch, and she’s still there. Now she’s napping on beds and sitting on laps and that’s causing some problems for Pepper, who had been the ruler of the house and couch up to that point. Pepper has compensated by taking to competitive eating now, and keeping Sasha away from the food bowl, so we’re feeding them separately. We had to – Pepper has gained some serious weight trying to keep Sasha from getting any food. It’s always something when you have kids or dogs, but it’s a good problem to have. We are grateful that Sasha is still with us. Pepper, she’s not so sure about that.