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Friday, February 3, 2012

I can't believe he ate the whole thing.

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Friday morning dawned on a very sad-looking dog named Cody. Our noble watch dog just stood in the middle of the yard in the freezing rain, head hanging down. I brought him in and toweled him off. He slowly made his way over to his sleeping rug and lay down.

I brought him water throughout the day but he wouldn’t touch it. He seemed to be uncomfortable, continually and toweled him off. He slowly made his way over to his sleeping rug and lay down. changing his position, flopping back and forth. He never left the rug. Finally, he drank the water…and promptly brought it back up. We moved him to the basement, where accidents are more easily forgiven. I made him a nest of towels at the bottom of the stairs.

Friday was a rotten day anyway with the weather, so I didn’t take Cody for his walk. He went out a couple of times for fresh air, but wasn’t moving too quickly. I started to worry that our 13-year-old dog, who normally bounds around like a pup, was starting to feel his age in a serious way. He resisted food and continued to vomit throughout the night.

On Saturday morning I took Cody for a slow walk. Normally he pulls me on the end of his leash, anxious to get out and examine every track and paw print on the road. This time he walked like an old man, right beside me. Every once in a while he would stop in his tracks, and stare up at the sky or a tree or straight into my eyes. He was just taking a break. If I tried to turn him around in the direction of home, he would gently resist. He wanted his walk. I think he follows the Cree way of thinking that if you are sick, you can’t let it rest on you. You have to get up and shake it off, get some fresh air, keep moving.

As we walked, it suddenly dawned on me. The last time I saw him eat was Thursday evening, when I returned from shopping. The last thing he had in his mouth was a rawhide chew bone from the Dollar Store. I wondered how many pieces he tore that rawhide bone into before attempting to swallow it.

Back in the house, I called the vet. She informed me that if the clump of rawhide did not work its way through on its own, Cody would require surgery. And at 13 years old, I wouldn’t want to put him through that. The Farmer and I gave Cody a dose of ‘bute’ painkiller that was half the size of the dose the calf got. It seemed to work. He settled down and the vomiting stopped.

I was out with girlfriends Saturday night but I couldn’t stop thinking about my dog. I felt terrible for giving him a treat that caused an intestinal obstruction. Sunday morning I checked him again and he just seemed so weak—I worried that he was dehydrated and dying. He rolled over as if to ask me to rub his tummy. The look in his eyes brought tears to mine. He seemed to be trying to communicate ‘I’m sorry that I ate the whole thing. But can’t you help me?’ I very gently ran my hands over his belly, in the direction of digestion. I repeated this several times, while he lay still and closed his eyes. When I took my hands away, his eyes remained closed. I quietly got up and went upstairs.

Just then I heard his footsteps behind me on the stairs. Carefully, tripping once, he lifted his weak legs and followed. I brought him outside, where he took another drink of water and urinated. Suddenly he had a new look in his eyes. He wagged his tail, and sniffed at his empty dog dish. I ran back into the house and got a hot dog. Ripping it into small pieces, I fed them to him, one by one. I didn’t want to worsen the blockage. His appetite had returned! We fed him a bit of grease from a roast duck to aid in the unblocking. He gobbled it up. I left him half an hour and then peeked outside again. He was sitting on his doghouse like Snoopy, waiting for me to take him on his walk. By the end of the day all bodily functions were back to normal and he was on the road to recovery. Please don’t feed your four-legged friends rawhide chew bones. They can be lethal.



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