Some days at Veterinary Services we perform miracles: removing a hemorrhaging ruptured spleen, halting a grand-mal seizure, unblocking a cat that hasn't urinated for days or bringing relief to the pain of a shattered pelvis in a hit-by-car patient. Other days, we can hardly smile because we've said goodbye to an old friend whom we've known for years.
And then there are the days of hilarious humor. Pets can get into the darndest predicaments that we roll our eyes to the heavens and wonder aloud “What the?” We never know when these cases will come in the front door, but we find humor and wonder at their misadventures. A few of these come into mind …
One day a big, smelly Bloodhound shuffled into an exam room. When I began questioning his human, she simply said, “He jingles when he walks.” Baffled, I asked “What does that mean?” She had him walk around the room, and I did indeed hear a mellifluous silvery sound.
X-rays revealed two bright round objects in the small intestine, which were NOT supposed to be there. It seems that Copper's human had several beautiful cloisonné Chinese medicine balls that she would roll in her palms to reduce stress. Copper thought they would be fun to eat. Several days later, he went home perfectly fine again, and I treasure one as a souvenir.
One evening, I answered an emergency call from a lady screaming that her dog had gotten into a fight with a snapping turtle. I silently wondered if this was a prank call. Why would a dog pick a fight with a dumb, slow turtle? Couldn't he just flee the scene if it became too intense?
Surely, a fight between a dog and a turtle couldn't end all that badly, but, yes, it could. The poor dog had leaned over to sniff the turtle, and the turtle whipped its head around to bite the dog's tongue off. THAT hurt!
I spoke with a specialist and learned that tongues are very vascular, and, depending upon the amount of healthy tissue and mutilation present, the severed edges can be reconnected rather easily. Several weeks later and several inches shorter, the tongue was fine.
Dogs and cats are remarkable in how they compensate for shortcomings (sorry). This little dog couldn't manipulate food into his mouth very well now, but he figured out he could throw it in the air and gulp it down neatly – kind of like a duck when you throw him a marshmallow (no, I won't tell that story!).
One day a lady brought in a bird that had cut its throat. It was so pretty, but she worried it might die from blood loss. When I entered the exam room, I looked with trepidation at the little box containing the bird. It was literally vibrating on the table and seemed to hum with the sound of buzzing bees. She told me the story again of the blood.
Examining a bird is always worrisome because they can be VERY troublesome if they fly and bang themselves against the walls. Catching them is difficult. As I was thinking of all this, the light went on in my brain. It had to be a ruby-throated Hummingbird! I don't know how she caught it, but I'm sure I'm one in a million that can say I've held a hummingbird in their hands!
Samantha came in again this week. She's a Dachshund mix and cute as a button. However, if she doesn't stop curbing her curiosity, her humans are in big trouble. I first saw her at Christmas and thought the white, arrow-straight objects in the X-ray were pins or needles. They were quarters (X-rays are one dimensional, and it's a puzzle to figure out what the objects are!).
When she came in Wednesday, X-rays revealed a dense, white, irregularly shaped blob. This time we got a rock out of her with a little luck and patience. I won't even elaborate on the corncob …
Over the years, different species of pets become popular. People love to be the first in the neighborhood to own a weird pet. Hedgehogs are hot right now although I have no idea why. Creepy, crawly reptiles and tarantulas? No way! The stranger the beast, the more curious we are, and it is fun to care for them. However, give me a good dog or a great cat any day. A furry hug or a walk around the block with them? That's my idea of happiness!
Dr. Holly Woltz (Doc Holly), Chief of Staff at Veterinary Services, has practiced veterinary medicine for 26 years and specializes in senior care. Visit her at www.aikenpetvet.com.