Rosa post-surgery: A little dopey, but coming back. At vet’s advice we put an old T-shirt on her to keep her from chewing at her incision.
I try to be tough but I’m a big softie.
I saw my dog post-surgery lying in the warmth of the vet operating room at Harmony Holistic Veterinary Care in Prescott. My Airedale’d had her stomach cut open and a cup of plastic junk removed. She’d been stitched back up, her shaved belly stapled to prevent her chewing loose the surgical incision.
She’d stirred to consciousness and now her little kopf poked out the swaddling blankets these angelic gals, vets and vet techs, had placed around her.
“Can I … touch her?”
“Oh sure,” said Dr. Joy Fuhrman with her distinctive South African accent. Dr. Joy had led the two-vet surgical team.
I walked into the room toward that ruffled brown head. Squatted down and petted it. Even sat on my butt on the tile floor to keep stroking her, feeling her silken ears, her neck.
Rising to my feet, back still turned to the staffers and my wife, I pulled up the front of my oversized T-shirt to tamp my eyes.
“God damn allergies.” Turning and snatching a paper towel from a dispenser, I stepped into the hall to blow my nose.
I guess all dogs do it. Grab and eat things that aren’t food.
Rosa’s quasi-culinary thieveries caught up with her. Barb thought she wasn’t shitting because she’d inhaled a good part of a chicken carcass, bones and all, or because after Barb had broken a peanut butter jar on the kitchen floor the dog had snapped up not only peanut butter but pieces of glass.
But the stuff pulled out of her stomach was neither chicken bone nor glass. It was some mysterious and still undetermined plastic. Almost hard, like a ball coating, only it wasn’t a tennis ball or other kind of ball.
Barb thinks it’s from when the dog tore loose from her grip and ran down the sloped side lot we bought to keep anyone from building there. Trailing the leash, the dog shot down the hill to a house construction site on the street. And got into something. Barb may be right.
The dog loves construction sites. I make jokes about how she flirts with construction workers. Where there are construction sites there are men; where there are men there are food scraps. Rosa will find a hot dog wrapper from some guy’s lunch from two years ago and on the strength of a lingering or imagined aroma attack and consume the thing.
She’s indiscriminate. She once stole some guy’s cigarette pack. I had to chase her, zigzagging behind her darting form like some clown chasing his hat in the wind, before I could wrest it back and, wiping off the slobber, return the squashed thing to its stunned owner. Clearly, keeping Rosa on the leash is indicated.
I had thought if anything would have fucked her up it would have been plastic bags. If I’m stupid enough to come back from our trail hike with treats still in a baggie, and I’ve got the baggie sitting out on my desk, and she’s at large, she can come into my office and before I know it snatch it off my desk and eat the whole thing, plastic and all. That’s her modus operandi.
I’d figured the accumulation of baggies had caught up with her. Thought the baggies had stopped coming out swirled in her turds and were now, finally, plugging up the works. But I’ll never know. The vets don’t think so. Barb’s supposition seems to have more credence.
The damn dog couldn’t shit.
Day after day after worrisome day she showed herself unable to really back one out, anything but these sad little dribbles. This is a dog who will have two prodigious bowel movements a day! I walk her on undeveloped, adjacent land, county land, where she seems to find rough remote areas to crap in, places so out of the way I won’t have to pick up after her. It’s one thing I love about my dog. There’s a certain delicacy about her.
If you’re wondering why Bob Gitlin, who had an Ivy League education, is always writing about shit, I don’t blame you. But let’s face it, in life, if you’re wondering what you’ve ever “contributed” to or “produced” in society, and your best prayed for answers begin to look like ephemera, wispy dodges, you begin to see that nitrogenous waste may well be a main achievement.
Anyway, leave it to me to realize Rosa needed medical attention. I had to go to work but Barb took her in.
I was stocking the grocery aisles at Walmart when she came in to tell me the vets said good thing we’d acted. There was a problem.
I am indebted to the two vets who managed the surgery, and to Dr. Roxanne Batt, Rosa’s longtime PCP, who couldn’t do it herself, tied up as she was all day in surgery herself. Dr. Rox had already saved the dog’s life when she came down with a deadly fatigue. And Rosa’s regular doctor figured strong in the huddle over what to do pending examination of the perilous X-rays and the realization that the barium enema hadn’t budged down her tract. An early worry was whether the cutting would, given the presence of that barium, invite leakage into breathing organs. You’re talking sepsis, danger of pneumonia.
After I saw the dog lying doped and swaddled on the floor, Barb and I drove her to the Prescott Valley emergency vet clinic for overnight observation. The vet there gave her oxygen to make sure her lungs stayed clear. Rosa bore up all right. Next morning we drove her back to Harmony Care so the splendid Dr. Fuhrman and crew could watch her again. And that evening she returned to us.
We’re a few days into her recovery. The dog’s wearing one of my old T-shirts so she can’t worry that incision on her belly.
Deal cost us four grand and change. Glad we had the money.
Main thing, she seems to be on the mend. Looks like our four-legged friend will be with us for a while yet.
We can’t feed her much, so no big shits yet …
And I think I’d better stop here. Before I wax rhapsodic about shit again. Though when you think about it, it is something to be grateful for.
We take so much for granted.