Last spring I mentioned in one of my badly written random posts that our golden retriever got sick, had to have emergency surgery, and almost died. A few concerned and lovely readers asked if I would ever share the full story. So here goes.....
It was the day of Cooper's first birthday party and we were in a mad scramble to get everything ready. It was the end of April and we had some freakish good weather. The door to our back deck was open for the most of the morning. Roary, who's favourite pastime is to be under your feet and in-the-way-at-all-times was oddly lying down in our side entry landing. It was a little strange that he even stayed there once guests had arrived. We didn't think much of it until we brought out the food.
If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting our dopey Golden, you would know that he is the BIGGEST foodie in the entire world. He loves and begs for food so much that he has developed a special breathing technique that seriously sounds like Darth Vader when food is near. The fact that Roary wasn't begging for food during the birthday party was making us a little bit worried. However, he is always getting into the garbage and eating strange things from the sidewalk so we just assumed that he had eaten something that didn't agree with him.
Fast forward a few hours. The party was a success, we were officially exhausted, and had decided to sit down on the deck for a breather. That's when we noticed that Roary was acting even more strange. He was pacing the outskirts of the yard and then would stop, lie down, and gag. This behaviour continued for a good hour. Eventually it started to get worse and he started trying to crawl underneath the deck. At that point we both knew that something was really, really wrong. I typed some of his symptoms into Google to try and figure out what it might be. One recommendation was to check his gums to see if they were pink or white. Alex checked and they were white - not good at all.
Since it was a Sunday evening at 9 pm, we had to contact an on-call emergency vet. After describing Roary's symptoms we were told that we should bring him in as soon as possible. Unfortunately the only animal hospital that was open was an over 30 minute drive away. We called Cooper's grandma to come and stay with him while we packed up our sick pup.
After an examination and blood work it was recommended that Roary have an x-ray of his stomach. By that time it was after midnight. Once the x-ray was finished she brought us into a dark room to show us the x-ray and share the horrible news. Roary had a life-threatening condition called Gastric Dilation and Volvulus. Basically his stomach was swollen, twisted, and cutting off circulation to his vital organs. She shared that the condition is almost always fatal if left untreated for too long and would require emergency surgery. She also shared that most pet owners choose not to put their dogs through the surgery - as the survival rate is not great and the cost of the surgery is very, very high.
She gave us three choices: put Roary to sleep right away to end his suffering, drive to Toronto (4+ hours away) to have emergency surgery performed by a dog surgeon, or have the emergency surgery done right then and there by her (the on-call vet who had never performed the surgery before).
We absolutely were not ready to say goodbye to our little stinker. We made the difficult decision to put trust the on-call vet and try surgery, knowing that at any time during the surgery and up until seven days afterward, his body could shut down from all of the trauma.
The veterinarian was absolutely amazing. She worked on Roary until the wee hours of the morning and called us at 3:45 a.m. to let us know that he had made it through. He made it through!!!!!
After the surgery, however, he wasn't recovering well in the hospital. It was recommended that we take him home to a familiar place to see if he would eat or drink which was critical for his recovery.
Shortly after getting home, Alex had to take a drive for special dog food. Our poor Roary was laying on his side in the back breakfast room with his eyelids drooping inches from his eyes and his tongue hanging out onto the floor. I thought at that moment that he was going to leave us. Cooper and I laid down on the floor next to him for almost an hour - petting him gently and telling him that he was a good boy. By the time Alex got home it seemed like he had taken a turn for the better. And now, almost eight months later, he is officially back to his old self - moping around most of the time and getting into mischief the rest.
We love you so much Roary! Thanks for beating the odds so that we get to be your doggy parents for a little bit longer. You're the best.