I almost lost Otis May 18th. Not the kind of “lost” where he wandered off though he has been known to do that. The lost as in he could have died because of Canine Bloat, which was accompanied by volvulus; his stomach rotated and twisted.  This condition is lethal if untreated within 6-12 hours and many owners are unaware of the signs. I was told by both attending vets that had I not gotten Otis to see his vet who took X-Rays and sent me down to Eden Prairie for emergency surgery within hours, he would have died. He was already going into shock.

The day started out like any other day but then twisted, just like his stomach. He was his normal doggy self but hours later I came downstairs and saw a dog who was in distress. Panting, pacing, restless and a stomach that was distended and as hard as a rock. I looked in his eyes and saw pain.

I went from having a healthy dog in the morning to sitting across from a surgeon, hours later, who was explaining medical risks to the emergency surgery he needed to survive.  My head was spinning. I signed papers giving permission for the surgery, somehow knowing I had given Otis the best possible chance by being observant of him. I felt helpless and very alone. For the first time in the 9 years that Otis and I had joined forces, I had to leave him ailing and sick. The house was very quiet without him.

Otis came through the surgery with the best possible prognosis. He “suffered” through the week of rice and boiled chicken and developed enough of a palette that he was able to discern the microscopic pain pill hidden in his food. He is back on the bed, back barking exuberantly when I bring out his food dish and except for the strange haircut he has, to accommodate the IV’s, and some digestive issues I don’t need to discuss, he seems ok.

He/we got “get well” cards from the children’s program he visits, well wishes from the people we knew in Pennsylvania and daily check in calls or emails from friends and family.  He came with me on Saturdays when I saw clients in Pennsylvania and he is a regular at Calli on the Saturdays I work. The first Saturday I worked without bringing him seemed strange. His regulars wondered where he was.

I know I will have to make a decision sometime again about the end of his life. I will make it with a heavy but loving heart but again knowing I made the best possible decision by looking into his eyes and seeing pain that can’t be eliminated by surgery.

I will let him go and again the house will be very quiet.