‘Tis the season for pet emergencies: True stories from the veterinary ER

December 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

BSPXmasCatI asked if any of our Pet Connection readers had spent a holiday night in the ER with a pet, and boy howdy, had you ever! So had our own Dr. Tony Johnson, albeit on the other side of the stethoscope during his years as a critical care specialist in private practice.

It’s hard to say which story is the most heartwarming, but any one of them could be the perfect antidote for hard times and winter storms. From the column:

It was Christmas Eve, and a UPS driver arrived with a package from (Rori) Saxl’s sister just as she was going out the door. She threw it inside and headed out for a fast pre-holiday trip to the grocery store.

When she got home, the box had been ripped open. It contents were missing, but the wrappers told the tale: One pound of dark chocolate Frango mints, and nine bars of scented soap.

Her four-year-old dog, Sissy, a beagle/terrier mix, and her two-year-old German shepherd/Rottweiler mix, Jack, both smelled of mint and perfume. Saxl searched the house and yard, but couldn’t find any sign of either soap or candy — and it was the candy that really worried her.

Although it takes a lot of chocolate to kill a big dog like Jack, Saxl had lost her Chesapeake Bay retriever, Katie, to what her vets had suspected was chocolate poisoning only a few months before.

“The vets who tried to save Katie were the ones who got me to adopt Jack,” Saxl told me. “They’d taken him from the local shelter to be a blood donor for other dogs in their hospital, and the whole staff had fallen in love with him and wanted to find him a really great home.”

Knowing she’d just lost Katie, the vet clinic staff lobbied Saxl to adopt Jack. And now she was bringing him in for overdosing on the very thing they thought had killed Katie. “I was so embarrassed,” she said. “They trusted me with Jack.”

You’ll have to read the column to see how everything turned out, and of course, to get the full effect of Jack’s projectile vomiting.

Pet Connection reader Katie Bruesewitz shares the story of her Flat-coated Retriever, Kody, and a difficult Christmas holiday when he was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma during emergency surgery:

Bruesewitz and her husband were supposed to be at his family’s house for Christmas dinner while Kody was in surgery. Instead, they stopped off to borrow their minivan so they could transport Kody to an overnight critical care facility.

“I sat on the floor of the van holding his poor groggy head up on the drive to the emergency clinic,” said Brueswitz. “He was in really rough shape. Knowing that he had a horrible cancer lurking inside probably made it seem much worse.”

The next day, however, the clinic told them he could go home. “The thumping of his tail wagging like crazy against the counter as he waited for us to get him was like music to our ears,” she said. “It felt like some corny TV movie about a Christmas miracle.”

And finally, Dr. Tony, who shares his insight throughout the piece, wraps it up with the story of Cupid, a kitten shot through with an arrow who came into his ER one Christmas Eve (and by the way, was still sitting on his lap all these years later, while I interviewed him):

“When I was an intern in Sacramento in 1997, the local animal control officers brought in a kitten on Christmas Eve,” he told me. “She had been shot clear through with an arrow — it went in her neck and came out her thigh.”

The kitten couldn’t move, but she was alive, and Johnson and a colleague made the decision to save her.

“We anesthetized her and cut the arrow at one end and pulled it out,” he said. “We figured she’d bleed out or get a collapsed lung, but she did fine.” So fine, in fact, that he took her home. “The local news picked it up, and called her a Christmas miracle,” Johnson said.

It’s all here… I hope you enjoy it, even with the projectile vomiting — which my editor wanted to cut and I had to beg for, so be sure to leave a comment there that it was your favorite part!



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