Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Meet Laddie: The Not So Efficient Garbage Disposal

For years we have had the most well behaved puppy- and I use puppy loosely. Okay, I use well behaved pretty loosely as well. No, but seriously, Ladde has always been a pretty good dog. Occasionally she'll try to eat another dog but, as she's aged, it's usually provoked.  Raised in the height of Tim's (not to mention his 3 boy roommates) bachelorhood she was brought up to go out once in the AM and once in the PM plus she only eats when she's hungry so her dry food can be left in her bowl. She's never been sick and only sees the vet when she needs her shots or a check up for meds.

Lately she must have decided that her food just isn't good enough and started supplementing it by knocking over the trash. We tried a couple different trashcans when we moved to no avail. Either that dog knows how to step on the pedal or has an extremely strong snout. Struggling with the thought of paying $165 for a SimpleHuman Dog Proof Trashcan we simply turned it around when we would leave until we figured out what to do. Now we never thought about this as being anything more than a nuisance much less potentially deadly!

My mom came to visit just after we closed to help me pull my head out of my ass and get organized (see previous blog for further explanation) and decorate and stuff. We were out on out 462nd trip to WalMart and Bed Bath and Beyond while Tim worked on getting the garage organized. When we came back we found, you guessed it, trash all over the floor. I did a pretty standard scold and proceeded to clean it up and went on with our day. I woke up the next morning to Laddie throwing up at 6:00AM in our closet. Of COURSE she's throwing up, she ate trash!! She ate breakfast with the vengeance and a couple hours later puked all over the floor. (Endorsement: SpotShot is now my new favorite product. My brand new carpets reflect none of this whole fiasco.) I'm starting to get worried and think we should call the vet because  this dog has a stomach of steel and has eaten everything from cell phones to batteries to the couch! Her stomach shouldn't still be upset. Tim says let's give it some time so I do... I cook her rice for dinner and give her a bowl of it which she woofs down - she loves people food. It comes back up a half hour later. Thank god this time it was on the hardwood!! We agree to sleep on it and give it one more meal but I'm pretty concerned.

Monday morning I give her a SMALL amount of rice and she keeps it down. My mom and I leave for our 567th trip to return something to Target and Tim gives her a bit more before he leaves for a meeting. When we get back we have a new place to SpotShot and I immediately pick up the phone and call the vet. They are kind enough to see us in an hour, right after I drop my mom off at the airport. So I load her in the car (Note: during all this the ONLY sign that she didn't feel well was she wanted nothing to do with her ball. Other than that she was still her normal, bubbly self.) and off we go.

Our vet (Endorsement: Dr. Jaime Bunn of Waukee-Clive Vet Clinic is amazing!) felt something he didn't feel a month ago when we took her for her check up and ordered an X Ray. Here is what we found (sorry for the crappy cellphone pic):
That perfectly round white thing just above the black worm-looking thing shouldn't be there...

Unfortunately, Dr. Bunn can't determine if it's a foreign body or a growth so off we go to get an ultrasound.

At this point I'm freaking out (I seriously don't know how parents do it. Kudos to all of you.) and call Tim to meet me at Iowa Veterinary Specialties (Endorsement: They. Freaking. Rock.) He does and off goes Laddie (extremely unwillingly) for her ultrasound and off we go home because they say it'll be an hour or two. We get a call to come back quicker than expected, hop back in the car and meet with Dr. Olsen who tells us he's pretty sure it's a foreign body but it's absolutely blocking her small intestine and she needs surgery NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week but NOW.  The timing couldn't be worse- Tim's scheduled to leave the next AM on business, coming back Thursday afternoon and turning around to leave Friday until Sunday. I leave Thursday afternoon for a business trip for 10 days. It was perfect since I could walk her in the AM and he in the PM. We were having a dog walker come in the mornings and evenings to let her out the rest of the time he was gone. Not so much anymore :( Now she was going to have to stay at IVS and be medically boarded after release from the hospital $$$$$

We meet with the surgeon, Dr. Stauffer, who informs us he's not so sure it's a foreign body. Given her age and that she started digging in the trash lately (apparently that's a sign of something wrong with the liver in older dogs. Who knew?) plus the fact they found some nodules in her liver and spleen on the ultrasound he wanted to be honest and say it was likely a tumor. Great, my heart dropped. What seemed like good news didn't seem so certain anymore. They give us our estimate, we sign our bank account away and go home for the next few hours. Those hours were not so fun. We finally get the call that surgery is over and it was a foreign object (YEA!!!) and they sent off the abnormalities in her liver and spleen to be biopsied (BOO). She was out of surgery and in the hospital recovering- he had pulled out a very large ball of plastic and tape! To the best of our knowledge it is the cellophane and tape off a 4-pack of ground turkey from CostCo that I had divided up earlier that day.

Tim left for his trip at the crack of dawn and I stopped by to visit Laddie that afternoon. That little brat in her cone snubbed me as if I had put her there on purpose! In her typical fashion she had pulled out her own IV catheter so she was going to get to be released from the hospital earlier than expected and I was going to get to take her home Wednesday night!

I'm not going to lie- taking her home was hard. Emotionally and physically. Try getting a 55lb lab with a cone on that can't jump into a Prius. It was so difficult that I actually stopped by PetCo on the way home to buy those 'As Seen on TV' dog stairs to help her OUT of the car. Yeah, that didn't work. They've been boxed up and are waiting to be part of my 621st return trip. It was very hard to see her so clearly alternate between being in pain and being drugged. She just lay there for hours and then I'd have to help her get up and walk her out and help her up and down the stairs to the deck (thank god there are only two). It was pretty clear the doggie gate I bought to keep her from following me up and down the stairs was not going to be necessary. I slept on the couch that night.

I left the next day for Antigua and, luckily, Tim got home an hour or so after I left so she was only alone for a short period of time (I put the trashcan in the pantry by the way). Tim was able to shorten his trip to leaving later on Friday and coming back Saturday evening. and we were super super lucky and grateful of Tim's co-worker and his wife and daughter  who volunteered to watch Laddie while Tim was gone. Wilcox family- if you are reading this you have no idea how much we appreciate it!

This is Laddie and her new friend Hayden:

Since Tim's picked her up she's back to her old self-moving around much more and doesn't have trouble with the stairs. Two nights ago I was able to check my voicemal and had a message from IVS saying that her biopsies came back normal so we are on the right track!

Here is a picture of our new dogproof trashcan:

If only we had paid that $165 up front...

PostScript: We are so super lucky to have an amazing vet who was able to give us an even more amazing referral. Iowa Veterinary Services took care of us like you wouldn't believe. They called often to give us a status and didn't mind when I called with questions- even if it was midnight... Drs. Stauffer and Olsen were completely honest and upfront with us and I couldn't have felt more comfortable leaving Laddie in their care. We are also very grateful to have made friends like Dan and Kristin who were able to take Laddie in and saved us a lot of money not having to medically board her.