Those who are unsympathetic to the plight of animals, squeamish at even descriptions of bodily discomforts, or generally indifferent about the details of my personal life should skip over this post. The subject is my dog, Mister President, and his continuing medical misadventures.
Last week, while at the dog run, Mister President got hold of another dog’s squeaky toy, roughly the size of a tennis ball but made of soft rubber and collapsible. After masticating it for a bit, and in spite of my chasing after him to tear it away, he consumed the thing pretty much whole.
I expected him to vomit it back up, as he generally does with the numerous and various indigestible objects that he swallows, but it wasn’t quite so easy. Large bits of it caused blockage in his digestive track, which led to a terrible bout of diarrhea starting on Friday evening. Then yesterday he threw up on five separate occasions, each consisting of three or four major heaves. Bits of the toy came out the first few times, but the majority of it remained inside (I’ll politely spare you the description of the state in which these other items surfaced: sticks, rocks, poorly chewed vegetables, a rubber band and a few unidentifiables).
Through yesterday, the veterinarian, whom I spoke to on the phone several times, tended to think this was a case of infection or parasite and not caused by the toy, since it had been inside for as long as a week without causing any apparent problems. But the vomiting continued this morning, and when we spoke at 11:00a he urged me to take Mister President to The Animal Medical Center on 62nd Street, a kind of veterinary ER, for immediate care.
The doctors there took x-rays and a sonogram, and their diagnosis was that it was indeed the remaining bits of the toy that was the root of the problem. The bits were settled in the stomach, and too large to move anywhere in his system without some kind of assistance.
The first option they presented was an endoscopy which would, essentially, fish out the toy bits through the throat. They couldn’t guarantee that it would work though, and there was a chance the procedure would damage his esophagus. I opted for the second, more straightforward, surer, but also more ghastly option: anesthetize the poor kid, open his stomach to retrieve the foreign objects, and sew him back up.
That’s all happening right now, as I type this. After a few hours spent in the waiting room, they said I should head home, as they would need to keep him under inpatient care for two days anyhow. They’re due to call any moment with the results.
Needless to say, I feel awful about the whole situation, terrible that Mister President has to suffer for my own remissness. Looking back, I should have gone after the toy a lot sooner, and I should’ve known that any chewing on an object small enough to be consumed is not merely chewing, but also a prelude to swallowing. I feel like I’ve failed as a pet owner.
The operation is fairly major and fairly expensive, but if I’m thankful for anything it’s that his chances are pretty good for a complete recovery. I know another dog who went through the same crisis and you’d never know it from the way he tears up the dog run today. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.