The night of Sunday, July 3rd 1994 was filled with the sounds of fireworks all over town. Firecrackers, bottlerockets, you name it, they could be seen or heard everywhere. Our dogs were scared to death of all this noise and horrible odor and at about 11 p.m. began hurling themselves against the side of the house. I was secretly hoping Ace, our Cocker Spaniel, (his name has been changed to assure his anonymity) would fling his brains out (wouldn't take much) and that would be that. He's my wife's little chocolate brown, widdling nervous wreck that annoyed the hell out of me. Mattias on the other hand is a fine specimen of what a dog should be. He's half Pitt-bull, half Lab and 100% *MUSCLE*. I guess he's no rocket scientist either as we shall soon see, but he's certainly a man's dog, and would fight to the death to protect any of our family.
Well, my wife and I were in bed (trying to sleep) and she decided to put them in the garage for the night. End of problem.
The next morning after getting dressed, I walked out into the garage and noticed the overpowering smell of paint-thinner.
"Oh shit," I thought to myself as I climbed through the rubble over to a spilled container of the awful smelling stuff.
"Those bastards!" I shouted when I notice that the thinner had soaked into a roll of wall insulation which had turned the floor black and gooey with the tar crap they use to stick the paper on with.
"Glad I bought an extra roll," I mumbled as I turned to walk back into the house. Then I noticed all the insulation that I had stapled up the previous day had been ripped away from the staples and been crammed into the spaces between the wall studs.
"Dammit!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. This brought my wife into the garage. As I pointed out the damage I happened to look over at the cat box in the corner...and then at the piles of puke everywhere.
"Oh no..." my wife squeaked. We had forgotten that Mattias has an insatiable appetite for the little "almond-roca's" that our four cats leave in there while in the garage.
Now then...dog puke is one of the most vile substances on the planet...cat shit is certainly in the top 10...but catshit-dogpuke has got to be *THE* most disgusting concoction *EVER!!* Of course I made my wife clean it up, so now Mattias is on her shit-list. Ace can do no wrong by her and this day was no exception...he was exempt from most of the damage.
About an hour later, working in the backyard, I noticed Mattias staggering around puking.
"Serves ya right, ya sick bastard"...I told him.
"Sweetie come here and look at your dog!" my wife hollared at me. I walked around to the patio and there he sat, his midsection 3 times its normal size.
"My god! Did he eat a lawn chair?" I laughed, not thinking this could be serious. He rolled over on his side barely able to breathe...his stomach was tight as a drum, and huge!
"I filled their water pan about 15 minutes ago and he wouldn't stop drinking!" she said, "he must've drank two gallons!"
I looked over at one of the yellowish piles of puke now covering our backyard...
"What the hell is the matter with you buddy?" I asked him. He managed to grunt in between short breaths. Looking closer at the puke, I noticed large unchewed starshaped chunks.
"What is this stuff? It looks like...CAT FOOD!!" We shouted together.
Upon returning to the garage, we could see that the 40 pound sack of cat food was torn open and nearly gone.
"How full was it yesterday?" I asked my wife, 'Keeper of the Cats'.
"About half...oh shit!"
'Oh shit' was an understatement. Judging by the amount that the food on the ground had increased in size, I figured my buddy would explode any minute. My wife had already dug out the dog care book and was looking at the First Aid section. On one page was an illustration of a miserably bloated dog and the title "Gastric Torsion".
It seems that dogs with large chest cavities (Mattias for sure) are succeptable to this after eating a great deal and then rigorously playing or exercising. It also said that one must get medical attention immediately or the stomach would "twist" and kill the dog.
It being the 4th and all, the vet's office was closed and I got his answering service. 15 minutes later he called me back and after hearing the story took on a very somber tone.
"How's your supply of Malox?" he asked.
"Well, I think we have some of the tablets" I said.
"Cram a few down him and call me back in 20 minutes, we need to get his size down quick!"
I measured his circumference with a tape measure, 3 feet! Unbelievable! He started belching and coughing and emitting awful smelling farts, no, *HORRIBLE* smelling farts! After 20 minutes...
" He's no smaller" I informed him.
" How's your supply of mineral oil?" he asked
" We have cod liver oil," I chimed, "will that work?"
" Give him 2 tablespoons and see...more Malox and call me back in 20 minutes."
My wife had gone to the corner store and bought some liquid Malox. I wrestled with him and got 1/3 of the bottle in him, 1/3 on him and the rest on me. At this point, I was pretty worried about my little buddy and decided if two tablespoons of oil was good, four would be better. At 20 minutes I measured him and called the vet.
" Still at 3 feet and holding," I told him.
" This isn't working, you better bring him in. I'll meet you there."
He managed to walk out to the van, which is a good thing 'cause he normally weighs over 70 pounds. All puffed up he looked easily 120. It's a good thing the ceiling vent was open to let all those noxious fumes out on the way.
The vet started his exam by sticking a thermometer in his butt (the dog's) and then listened with a stethoscope while he thumped his side.
Trying to keep a light heart I inquired, "Is he ripe?"
This drew dirty looks from the vet, my wife and the dog.
"Let's get a couple of X-rays of him and see if that's gas or cat food in there," the vet suggested.
We lifted him up on the table together. After the first one he said,
"Ok, let's roll him on his side." I held his front legs and the Doc got his back ones.
"One, two, three!"
We body-slammed him on the table, conking his head rather hard. Somehow one of his front legs kept getting away from me, and he kept getting up. After three body-slams, we had him down (and nearly unconscious). I had to leave during the X-rays (for gonad safety) and I'm not sure how he held Mattias down and took the picture. Of course no one but the Doc could tell anything from the X-rays.
"We have a couple of choices," he said. "I can put him under and insert a tube down his throat. I'll be able to get out all the food and foam and gas. That is *IF* his stomach isn't twisted. If it is, nothing will come out. I'm afraid surgery is the only other option."
"Is it difficult?" my wife asked.
"It's the most difficult surgery we do here," he said, " and the success rate I'm afraid is only around 15-30%."
"What could we expect for a bill?" I asked. This got an immediate hateful stare from my wife and the dog as if to say "Does it matter?..."
"Judging from the last three of these we have done, anywhere from $650 to $1200." he said.
I gulped hard. My eyes widened. The room fell silent except for the sound of Mattias's raspy breathing.
"Let me try the tube first, then I'll call you and we'll go from there."
An hour and a half later, the doc called.
"Well,I had a lot of luck with the tube. I got out alot of foam and food. I also gave him an enema and got alot there too. But we're still not out of the woods yet. I rinsed his stomach with an anti-bloat solution used on cattle. I'm hoping that'll stop the fermentation in his stomach."
"Can we come pick him up?" I asked hopefully.
"No, we'll need to see how he is in the morning. Call in tomorrow about 11 a.m."
"Mattias is a new man!" the doc exclaimed. "I've not seen a recovery like this before...he's a tough guy! You can pick him up this afternoon. We're cleaning him up a bit, he's a little...er...funky right now."
Immediately after work I raced home and got my van ( no dogs allowed in my Camaro) and picked him up.
"Mattias Miller's ride is here!" the receptionist called to the back on the intercom.
His special food and prescription were explained to me and soon a woman brought him out front. Right away I was hit with a FOUL odor. Mattias was clean and white but had green slimy poop all over his rearend. The woman handed him to me and quickly left.
"Well he musta sat in some" I thought, thinking of how small the cages must be.
When we got in the van the odor was overpowering. I opened all the wind wings and drove fast. I wouldn't let him sit down...I didn't want crap all over the carpeting. When we got home I rinsed him off good and he spent the next half-hour peeing...on everything.
Later I went out to give him a pill and his butt was covered in vile smelling crap again. Apparently the enema combined with all that cod liver oil made it a little hard to control the 'ole ring muscle. The oil and the cat food probably explains the unusually bad odor. I'm happy to say that Mattias is slowly coming back to normal.
The $230 bill has certainly taught us a lesson about keeping the food out of reach. And I'll certainly go a bit easier on that cod liver oil in the future.
Mattias Jehosephat Miller
- Rest in Peace -
September 19th, 2002
"Even the cats loved him"
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