Alternate title: who needs a honeymoon when there’s emergency vet hospitals that need my money?
Last Wednesday, Brent and I went grocery shopping and came home around 7pm. We talked about how we were feeling guilty that we hadn’t fed Stanley yet, and how hungry he would be. Stanley loves food. Breakfast and dinner are the two happiest 30 seconds of his day. So we were immediately alarmed when we fed him on Wednesday and instead of eating his food, he cried and immediately laid down on the living room floor.
Brent was making dinner. “Should we take him to Dove Lewis (the 24-hour emergency vet hospital across town)?” I asked.
“I am an alarmist,” Brent replied, “so I’ll defer to you, and if you think we should take him, we should take him.” We waited a bit. I mean, dinner was literally on the stove. Stanley ate a bite or two of food. We laughed at how silly we were to think of taking our dog to the emergency room because he didn’t want his dinner.
Then he threw up at our feet. I searched on my phone for how to make puppies vomit, and read that we should give him Hydrogen Peroxide. I got in the car to head to the store, and I also called Dove Lewis, because not only are they an awesome (though expensive) hospital, they give out all kinds of great free advice if you call them in a panic.
“I wouldn’t recommend peroxide,” said the girl on the phone. “You could just make it worse.” I turned around, went home, tried to eat my dinner, and told Brent what I’d heard.
We were on our way in ten minutes.
Checking in at Dove Lewis
Stanley was his normal self in the car, and an obnoxious jerk at the hospital, so again, we were feeling quite silly (“are we those people?”) but the doctor wanted to do an x-ray on Stanley’s belly anyway.
See, he’d eaten an entire Costco bag of fresh coconut on Monday, and one of his toys was missing. Had he eaten a rubber ball?
The x-ray was inconclusive, and the doctor wasn’t helpful. “Dogs who eat gorilla glue have stomachs that look like this,” she said, multiple times before Brent told her, in a take-me-seriously voice, “that’s impossible.” She then hemmed and hawed about our options, which also wasn’t helpful. “You can take him home and give him fluids, or you can leave him overnight and we can give him fluids and monitor him, or you can do surgery right now,” she told us. She went on to say how dangerous surgery was, but we could do it right now if we wanted but also we could give him fluids and pain medicine and do another x-ray to see if anything changes and then do surgery in the morning.
Finally, we understood what she was having a hard time telling us: her opinion was that we leave him there. We left, shaken, not quite understanding how we were supposed to feel, and we cried the whole way home.
I called the hospital as soon as I got up on Thursday morning, asking for an update. “He did really well,” said the tech. “We’ll call you when we redo his x-rays.” The next person I talked to was a doctor. “The x-ray looks identical. Whatever that mass is, it’s not moving. I’d recommend surgery this afternoon.”
But isn’t it a strange and dangerous surgery, rife with complications of contamination in a sterile area?
“Don’t worry,” said the new voice on the phone. “This surgeon gets things out of dog bellies all the time. It’s a routine procedure.” Oh, how I wish you were there last night.
He had surgery in the afternoon, and we went to visit him Thursday night. That’s where I snapped that pathetic picture. He used all his puppy energy to wag his tail when he saw us, and then he just moped. Poor thing. I was overcome with relief, though, and slept a thousand times better Thursday night knowing I’d get to take him home on Friday than I did on Wednesday night, not knowing if I’d ever get to see him again.
The Contents of Stanley’s Stomach
What was that giant mass of stuff in Stanley’s belly? Was it five socks, one shoe, a tennis ball, and a rope?
It was, simply, the contents of his dinner bowl the last few meals.
He’d eaten so fast that the kibble turned into this big ball of undigestible glop, and his stomach turned off.
He has staples in his stomach and a new, fashion-forward cone of shame that he gets to wear for the next month. He’s not allowed to jump and play, which is going to be hard to control.
But he’s back, and soon he’ll be his normal rambunctious puppy self again.
Also, yes, we are those people. Stanley has only been in our lives since October, but he makes us a family. And it turns out, we’ll do anything for family.
How the Money Works Out
When we took him to his very first vet appointment, they mentioned something about pet insurance. We looked into it. He ate a shoe. We decided it would be a good idea. So, we bought a policy from ASPCA.
For a $10/month premium, we got a policy that, on paper, looks like:
- $500 deductible
- $2500 per incident coverage
The way pet insurance works is that you pay the vet, then submit your receipt to the insurance company, who will then cut you a check after they make sure you did in fact spend that much money on your dumb dog who can’t slow down when he eats.
If it all works the way it should, a) the insurance will have paid for itself, and b) we’ll be out $1500ish out of pocket.
Which is still a boatload of cash.
Do you have pet insurance? Have you ever had to use it?