Honda is an 8 year-old Golden Retriever I rescued 4 years ago. It’s pretty unbelievable that such a handsome, loyal guy needed to be rescued in the first place, but lucky for me he did. It didn’t take me long to get to know Honda (now he mostly goes by “H”) and the fact that he basically lives for four things: food, squirrels, tennis balls and me. Last Monday, when Honda wouldn’t bat an eye at any one of those things, I knew something was really wrong. Vets will tell you that when an animal is very sick, he or she will do one of two things: cling to you or go into complete isolation. Honda’s strange behavior prompted a call to my vet about my sick dog.
Last Monday morning I took Honda into the vet and after a quick look-over, she diagnosed Honda with a bacterial infection in his stomach. A little skeptical of the diagnosis, I took him home keeping a close eye on his behavior. That night, Honda refused dinner, water, a game of fetch, and my call for him to come inside for bed.
The next morning he seemed even sicker than the day before. He had a bloated stomach, no appetite, no energy and was showing no love. It was all so very un-Honda like. I called the vet’s office that morning to report my observations and gut instinct that this was more than just some bacterial infection. They asked me to bring him back in for another look and a couple x-rays.
Twenty minutes later I got a devastating call at work. X-rays of Honda’s stomach showed large pockets of air that were obstructing his digestive tract. If they didn’t perform emergency surgery on him to find out what was causing the blockage, I was possibly going to lose him. It had gotten so bad that quickly. Turns out Honda suffered from an intestinal torsion. Out of 25 feet of Honda’s intestine (humans have 40 ft.), 10 feet were twisted up (picture a balloon animal twisted at different parts). The vets needed to untwist his intestine and hope that only a small portion of it was badly damaged. If too much of the intestine was damaged, Honda’s chances of surviving were minimal. It turned out only 2 ft. (of the 10) were really bad. During surgery, the doctors cut the damaged part out and sewed the other ends back together. Honda’s vets told me that if I had waited any longer to bring him in, the damaged part would have been too bad and he probably wouldn’t have made it.
The five days of recovery following an intense surgery like Honda’s are the most crucial. In fact, recovery can be so painful and traumatic that animals sometimes do not survive. Honda remained in the hospital for 2 days under the vet’s watchful eye, hooked up to IVs that provided him fluids and pain medication. Every day, Honda’s recovery was “amazing” and he was healing the best he could under the circumstances. Now, it’s over a week later, and all is still amazing. Honda is back to carrying 3 tennis balls around in his mouth–a true sign that the old “H” is back!
If you’re like me, you sometimes wish your pet could just talk! But, if you trust your gut and look for signs from your companion, you too may catch a sickness before it’s too late.
Oh, and here’s a picture of “H” on Thanksgiving Day!