Remembering Bella

As we do every November 11, we remember the veterans who fought for our freedom, and remember why history is so important. My father was a POW of WWII, and although he never spoke of it very willingly, when he did, we sat with reverence and listened to his stories. But on last years Remembrance Day, we at the Timberlea Veterinary Clinic have a different story to remember for some time.

Bella was a 6 month old Labrador puppy who is owned by an RCAF Veteran who suffers from PTSD. So this bouncy loveable puppy is important to his and his families mental as well as their physical well-being. When Bella was brought to the clinic with some vomiting, an x-ray revealed a needle. Not one to hop into surgery without a justifiable reason, Dr. Cote decided that she was more concerned about perforation of the stomach, which would then lead to septic peritonitis, and so she decided surgery would be a better idea.

We call the procedure an exploratory laparotomy- or an xlap. You never know what you are going to find. I have been known to call them “sneak and peaks”- I sneak in, peak around the liver, intestines, kidney, spleen and stomach, and if I don’t find anything, I close up. For example, when doing a routine spay this past summer, I noticed some extra fluid in the abdomen, and decided to “explore” a bit. Thank goodness I did!  There was a shish kebab stick perforating the stomach. Fortunately, the dog was fine. In this case it was a Saturday afternoon, and Dr. Cote felt that waiting until Monday might be dangerous.

So Bella went into surgery late Saturday afternoon last November- and sure enough, the needle was found perforating the stomach wall. Attached to it was one of the red plastic poppies we make donations for in the days prior to Remembrance Day. The stomach was opened, the poppy removed, all was closed up and all was well. So when Bella came back the following day, imagine our surprise when on x-ray, a metal pendant was now noted in the stomach! Sometime between going home on Saturday and returning to our clinic, Bella managed to eat the owner’s pendant. However, with lots of Vaseline sandwiches (yes, 2 pieces of bread buttered with- you got it, Vaseline as thick as peanut butter) he managed to push this through.

The owners are happy that this all ended well. Originally, the family thought that they would train Bella to be a service dog.  But they soon found out that the joy and the happiness she brought to their family just being a normal dog, already made enormous changes in their life. So Bella will be a “normal” dog.  But this normal dog will always be remembered by her family and us. Her surgery to remove a remembrance day poppy occurred on Remembrance Day!