Photo courtesy of Paul ClarkClient #1: Hiya Doc. Nice ta meetcha. First off you need to know I’m a physician. A doctor. And as a doctor I’ve made the decision not to spend a large amount of money on my dog. I’m not willing to spend several thousand dollars. That’s just assanign. I love him but, after all, he’s just a dog.
Veterinarian: Okay. I understand. People have financial limitations. Let me take a look at Duke.
I have to tell you. I’m concerned. Duke is very sick. He’s severely dehydrated, his mucous membranes are injected, he’s weak, lethargic and painful in the abdomen. I’m worried he may have an intestinal foreign body.
Blood work and x-rays are in order.
Client #1: Like I said I’m not willing to spend a lot of money. Plus he doesn’t eat things he’s not supposed to. You can start with blood work.
(Dog taken for blood draw then returned to owner. While blood work is being run client summons the veterinarian to the exam room).
Client #1: Doc. He vomited. It’s foul, putrid. I think you’re right. He has a foreign body. You’d better take x-rays. You’d better take them now.
(Dog taken for x-rays. Veterinarian returns to discuss results).
Veterinarian: I’m afraid I have some bad news. These radiographs are highly suspicious for a foreign body -- specifically a linear foreign body. My best recommendation would be to take Duke to surgery and explore his abdomen.
But I know you have financial constraints and unfortunately surgery adds up. Including the exam, the diagnostics we’ve done so far, surgery and hospitalization were probably talking in the range of $1500.00 to $2000.00.
I’m afraid this is an obstruction that won’t pass on it’s own and Duke is already in poor condition. Your other option is euthanasia.
Client #1 (with tears rolling down his cheeks): I said I didn’t want to spend a lot of money but it doesn’t seem fair not to treat him. Do it. Take him to surgery.
Client #2: Hello doctor. Nice to meet you.
Veterinarian: Hello. I see Sage has been here before. She had a foreign body surgery.
Client #2: Yes. She swallowed a nylabone. I guess they’re still manufacturing them. They’re made to swallow and supposed to dissolve. It didn’t. It doesn't seem it was her fault.
Veterinarian: And now she’s showing similar signs?
Client #2: Yes.
Veterinarian: Well let me take a look at her. She’s pretty bright and alert. She’s not too dehydrated but she is a bit painful in her belly. Given her previous history I think we should take x-rays.
Client #2: Okay, sure, sounds good to me.
(Dog taken for x-rays and veterinarian returns to discuss results)
Veterinarian: Well I’m afraid Sage is obstructed again. It appears she’s swallowed a rock.
Client #2: A rock? A rock? Why would a dog swallow a rock?
Veterinarian: I don’t know. Dogs can be weird that way. They eat things that a typical person wouldn't even think about eating.
Client #2: This is not normal. This dog is not normal. She digs holes. She runs away. And now rocks. What dog swallows rocks?
Veterinarian: Actually it’s not an uncommon occurrence, especially in puppies. And really she’s still a puppy. She’ll begin to mature in another year or so. I recommend we take her to surgery.
Client #2: I suppose some people can’t afford the care. Simply can’t pay for it. That’s terrible. Horrible. This, we can afford this. We've been through it before. But this dog is not normal. Rocks!
Veterinarian: I assure you it is quite normal. Sage isn't the first dog to swallow rocks.
Client #2: Well, you see, here's the thing. My wife doesn’t like this dog. We were thinking of finding her a new home. Yet it seems a shame to withhold treatment for bad behavior.
Veterinarian: Yes it does. And she’s young. She’s likely to outgrow this type of behavior.
Client #2: And I want my boys to have both their dogs. I want them to understand responsibility and compassion. That's my job as a parent. As a citizen.
But this dog. She’s not normal. Just not normal. I’m afraid we’re going to have to put her to sleep.
Veterinarian: Are you sure this is what you want to do?
Client #2: Yes.