When It Hits Close to Home

It has been a difficult couple of weeks. I feel bad when someone suffers a loss of a pet, but some hurt more than others. Just recently, one hit especially close to home. I have a 12 year old



standard poodle named Lucy. She has been a real delight in our lives. Six years ago, she had her last puppies. One of those was Sam. He was a sweet, high-energy, people-loving puppy from the very beginning. He would sit on my feet whenever I stood still for long. All the other puppies in the litter were always running around. My wife and I were delighted when some dear friends of ours adopted him into their home. This couple had one of our puppies before and it was time for a new one. We knew Sam had won the doggie lottery! It was a perfect fit. He brought joy and excitement wherever he went. He loved coming in to the hospital for group play and to visit with his friends.

Right before Thanksgiving, Sam ate a hand towel. The owners recognized it was missing and brought him in for x-rays. The gas pattern was unmistakable. He had eaten it and was having an obstruction. He was in great shape so we started him on fluids and got him into surgery quickly.



Sure enough, we found parts of the towel in the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. We removed the pieces we needed to and moved the rest into the large intestine. Later, after surgery, he passed the rest from his large intestine. He was more depressed than expected, but seemed to be brightening up the next morning. Same was resting comfortably and had pink gums and no fever.

I went to lunch on Saturday and was going to check on Sam an hour later. One of my lodging staff called me and said that she checked on him and he wasn’t breathing. I hurried in to check on him and he had passed away. This was so unexpected and sudden. It is so frustrating for me when we do something right and still lose a patient. He must have thrown an embolism, clot or thrombus. It is so rare, but can happen with any surgery.

My heart goes out to the owners, especially after telling them everything went well with the surgery and Sam could go home soon. He was only six years old!

My dog is twelve and I know I won’t have her for many more years, and that hurts. She is a wonderful dog. I only wish I had another puppy for my friends to ease their hurt. Sam will leave a big hole in their lives and ours also.

-Dr. Jim

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