Last week we had a handyman coming to take measurements for hardwood floors we were having installed. While I was talking to the handyman, Rusty, my Jack Russell terrier, was out in the yard. At 7 ½ years, Rusty still very much has the energy and mentality of a puppy. He will get into everything, especially if it’s food. In the chaos of having company, I noticed A look outside then yell out the door into the backyard. This is normal, as Rusty often gets into the garden. I paid no attention as I discussed paint colors for our dining room walls. I remember A saying something about the dog having gotten into some trash in the yard, which was strange because we don’t keep trash in the yard. We put it in the trashcans that usually are all lined up in the alley. As we live in a city row house, the trash cans are sort of collective property among the neighbors. But last Tuesday, the garbage collectors didn’t do a very good job and someone threw an entire bag of random trash into our yard along with an empty can.
After the handyman left, I peeked out the back window. In the garden, raw trash was strewn about, and upon closer inspection, I noticed it looked like someone's bathroom trash. I was embarrassed to see a collection of white tampons starkly contrast against the dark soil. I quickly grabbed a few plastic bags and headed out to clean up the mess before any of the neighbors saw our unsightly flower beds. As I cleaned it up, I grew angrier, knowing that I was cleaning up someone else’s mess of things that belonged in the toilet and not in the trash, or the garden.
About half an hour later, I noticed my dog was hanging out in his crate and when I coaxed him out, he started walking around in circles and kept looking back at his side. I took a closer look. Had I been feeding him THAT many extra treats lately? His entire torso was getting really fat. He’s a pretty fit dog, being a JRT and all. He burns off most of his dinner jumping up and down just before I feed it to him. I tried to see if food would get him excited. It did, but he didn’t have nearly the amount of energy he normally does when I say: Are yooooouuuuuu . . . HUNGRY? There was no jumping straight up and down to kitchen counter height, which is pretty much a clear sign something is wrong.
Could he have eaten one of those tampons? I wondered. How many could he have eaten? What else was in that trash that I didn't see? I cringed at the thought of explaining this to the vet. I called the Pet ER and told them his stomach looked bloated and the tech said: “You need to bring him in like RIGHT NOW.” So I put his leash on, which he did get excited about, but he was so bloated by this point, that when his tail wagged, his belly and torso swung back and forth, more like a large, happy lab than a little svelte JRT.
The vet techs were waiting for us when we got to the hospital. Inside, they whisked the dog away and directed me to the desk to fill out paperwork. Then I nervously waited in an examining room, where a tech met me and I explained to her that he had gotten into trash that was not mine and he may have ingested a large quantity of feminine products. She warned me that something like that would probably have to be removed surgically and then left, telling me they would start X-rays on the dog and the vet would be in shortly.
So there I sat, wondering how much this would cost, if I had gotten the dog there in time to save him, if the vet was going to be male or female and if they’d ever seen a dog that scarfed down as many tampons as he could find. (Of course they have, I told myself. Dogs eat everything.) Still, I prayed for a female vet. My wish was granted as a young woman, who looked fresh out of vet school entered the room along with another younger girl carrying what looked like a reporter’s notebook. But I pretended not to notice and thought there must be some explanation for the notebook. She must be in vet school. The vet introduced herself and then mentioned something about the other girl being an intern for the city’s Style magazine, which didn’t make any sense to me at the time. I acknowledged her, but thought I must have heard wrong. How was I going to explain that my dog may have eaten a bunch of tampons with a reporter writing down everything I said? It’s bad enough the vet thinks I’m an unfit dog owner. I can’t have the entire city thinking that.
So the vet asked what happened. I gingerly explained that Rusty got into the trash, making sure to clarify again that it was not my trash, but that someone had thrown some into the yard. “It looked like bathroom trash” I said, thinking I could leave it at that. She pried further and I had to divulge the information. I watched as the reporter jotted down everything I was saying, still confused as to why she was really here.
We went into the hallway where Rusty’s X-ray was glowing against a lightbox. I could still see the svelte frame of his body, but his stomach took up most of the torso and was at least four times the size of his little heart which is always beating at the pace of a constant drum roll.
“Is that larger than it should be?” I asked, pointing to his stomach.
“Yes. It’s distended to about four or five times what it should look like.”
Inside his stomach, on one side, it was filled with what looked like elbow macaroni. Tiny tubes were all curled up together and on the other side, there was just a whitish transparent blob. It kind of looked like this:
Eventually the reporter approached me and asked for my name and phone number in case she wanted to use any “anecdotes” from our visit. The former reporter in me told me to have mercy on this poor budding journalist who was desperate for a great lead to her story, and had hit the jackpot with me. But I didn’t know her and she was still green. I couldn’t be sure she would have mercy on me, so I told her no, she couldn’t have my name. If she was a true sleuth though, she stole it off my dog’s chart.
The vet told me the X-ray looked good and nothing seemed to be lodged in his intestines, which would have been more precarious and expensive. She gave me some prescription, high fiber dog food and sent me on my way. Needless to say, the situation has pretty much worked itself out, but I am anxiously awaiting next month’s issue of Style magazine.