Spontaneous Consumption

October 2012

It’s almost impossible for an old dog not to flirt with accident and injury, or sometimes even death. I refer to these moments as “dodging bullets”. For the last fifteen years, Buddy has dodged many. The last one however, may have brushed him a little too close. 

It’s a given that most dogs love to eat. And some dogs will eat just about anything. I wonder if they convince themselves it’s a tasty treat before devouring what’s in front of them without a second guess. For some, it’s about quickly swallowing what they have before being noticed. Maybe this describes your dog. Maybe your neighbors. Regardless, I’d wager that most vets could make a living solely on what dogs consume. If you’re lucky, your dogs’ stomach refuses the ingestion and sends the contents back where they came from. If not so lucky, it’s another trip to the vet.

X-rays show obstructions like sticks and bones, toy cars, even batteries. Repulsive as it may be, tampons and Christmas tree tinsel often get wrapped around canine intestines requiring emergency surgery. Unimaginable items have passed through Buddy’s digestive tract. He’s been lucky. The best time to discover exactly what treats Buddy has consumed over the winter months is during the spring thaw. Backyard snowmelt at my house reveals remnants of plastic bottle caps, tin foil, highlighters and shoelaces; as well as Buddy’s single most favorite item: women’s intimates … or at least what’s left of them.

But undergarments aside, his more memorable indulgences have included chocolate (numerous times), blue gel from inside ice packs and one time even rat poison. This past summer I stuck my hand down Buddy’s throat to retrieve part of a dead fish and a left over corn cob. Just last spring, Buddy may have swallowed a live bullet from my .357 Magnum. No joke. I’m still searching my back yard for the shell.

Last month’s “consumption scare”, however, was a first for Buddy, and almost his last.

It began with Buddy growing tired of the same old boring dry food all these years. He lost most of his interest in eating altogether. So out of mere desperation, I tried everything from home-made recipes I found online to higher end brands of dry food. Buddy’s stomach wasn’t overly fond of anything however, except the new raw diet that I discovered. He couldn’t eat it fast enough. But within two days Buddy was showing clear signs for the first time ever, of maybe checking out.

Recently while I was on the air hosting my morning show, a concerned neighbor of mine checked in on him. She called with the bad news: Buddy was hemorrhaging all over my house. He was weak and showing signs of pain. In minutes she and Buddy were en rout to my veterinarian; Stonecliff Animal Hospital in Bradford. I arrived in record time, finding Buddy plugged in to an IV, still with my neighbor and now joined by my girlfriend. I lay on the floor where he continued to hemorrhage, our heads pressed firmly together. We all waited nervously for blood work and results on the numerous tests being conducted. Somehow Buddy tested negative for every one of them, including Parvovirus, Salmonella, Leptospirosis, Giardia and other toxins. Dr. Susan Dyer (who heads up an extraordinary team at Stonecliff) diagnosed Buddy with HGE (Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis. In laymen’s terms, “road rash” of the intestine walls. Left untreated, it could be fatal but Dr. Dyer was confident that they caught it in time and had the upper hand with an aggressive administration of fluids, pain management and antibiotics. Shockingly, she pointed the finger at Buddy’s newly discovered raw diet as the possible culprit. It’s ironic that with all the items Buddy has consumed over the course of his life, it was dog food that almost took him out. In less than twenty-four hours however Buddy was showing signs of turning around.

It’s remarkable how sudden your faith is tested and soul consumed with hope and fear when it becomes reality that your time might be up with your best friend. My gratitude for concerned listeners, close friends and loved ones at my side during this event is unspeakable. I’m reminded that time is possibly the single greatest gift we ever receive despite not knowing exactly how much of it we have. But it’s all we have, so make the most of it.

With many prayers, Buddy dodged another bullet.  And I am richly blessed with more time. 

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