Close Call

Tonight, we came perilously close to losing Molly.

The girls had a grooming appointment this morning, and spent their day getting bathed, clipped and made beautiful. When they’re taking a trip to the groomer, I don’t feed them in the morning. Emma gets amazingly carsick sometimes, and it’s just easier if you’re not gonna feed one, to delay feeding them both. I got the call that they were ready, and picked them up around 5pm. Molly was as bouncy as could be, happy to see me, and ready to get home to dinner.

By 6pm, things had turned very grim. She was in the yard, trying to vomit, and couldn’t. In fact, she acted like she could get anything out of her body from either end. And I could tell by the way she was moving that she was incredibly uncomfortable. Then I felt her stomach, and it felt very full and hard. I knew I hadn’t fed her, so that was obviously wrong. I ran through the house to see if there was something obvious she’d gotten into — no luck — while Beck got on the phone with the animal hospital. They told us to bring her in, and Beck headed to the hospital with her.

The downside to this was that I had a scheduled work bridge call at 7pm. I felt like a real heel staying here for that, but what could I do? I was asked on the call if we needed to get someone else on the call to cover for me (thanks Gene!), but how can I justify delaying work progress on account of my dog? I mean, for me, that’s absolutely the right answer — she’s family to me — but not everyone views pets that way. And frankly, the dozen folks on the bridge call gave up their family time to be on that call on a Saturday night. I don’t feel like I could be the cause of delaying that for an hour while trying to find someone else to cover for me and getting them up to speed with what we’re trying to do. Surely it’s not in the company’s best interest to tolerate delays because someone’s dog is sick.

Harriet (another Berner owner) sent me an e-mail while I was on the bridge call to let me know that Beck had arrived at the hospital, and that she was heading down to the hospital to be with her. I got off the bridge around 7:30, and talked to Beck before heading out. It was just then that the doc came in to tell Beck what the diagnosis was: gastric dilatation and volvulus, which is commonly called bloat. Basically, her stomach had twisted 180 degrees and was full of gas. This is something that just happens to big breeds, with no real explanation, and no real solution aside from rapid diagnosis and surgery. You see, in just a few hours, the dog can go from showing no symptoms to being dead from this.

They were prepping her for surgery and would be started before I could get there. They would have to expel the gas from the stomach, and then untwist her stomach. The danger here is that there could be signficant damage to the stomach and spleen that can require the removal of part of the stomach or the whole spleen. This is very, very serious condition.

I started setting the road on fire between here and Kirkwood and arrived at the hospital. Harriet, Beck and I sat and waited. And waited. And waited. It seemed like an eternity until we got our first progress report on the work being done. One of the folks there came out and gave us the news that Molly had come through the surgery well, and there was no signs of distress in the spleen or stomach. Her prognosis was looking good, and when the surgeon was done, she’d come out and tell us the details. Needless to say, that was a huge relief!

We asked if we’d be able to see her a little later, and the tech we were talking thought we probably wouldn’t. He told us that they give the dogs pretty strong hallucinaginics, and sometimes they snap at things that aren’t really there, which of course gave all of us a very much needed laugh. Molly can be pretty dingy sometimes, and I could just see her trying to grab invisible butterflies in the air!

The surgeon later came out and explained what she’d seen in surgery, and basically she felt like Molly would recover completely after some recovery time, including being in the hospital a few days. There was nothing else for us to do, so the doc asked if we wanted to say goodnight to her. Well of course we did! She took us back to her recover area, and laid on a mat was Molly, with tubes flowing in and out of her. She had no idea we were there, but it was good for both of us to see her, scratch her muzzle, and know she was doing well.

Things could have ended up so very different. We were supposed to go to Chicago this weekend to visit with friends. The only reason we didn’t was because Beck’s been a little under the weather. Had we done that, Molly would likely have been found dead in her kennel at the boarders or when the housesitter came back from their day job. Even had Beck and gone to dinner, Molly would probably have been gone by the time we got back. We were just that close to losing her tonight.

So what did you do today? I saved my dog’s life tonight, and I’m feeling pretty good about that.