January 22, 2013

Achilles Goes to the ER

Of all the things I did not want to happen during this deployment, I absolutely 100% did not want anything to happen to this dog. To either of them, of course. They’re my boys. But that’s one email/phone call I never wanted to give SoldierMan, that something had happened to “his boy.” We both love both dogs, and they both love us, but Achilles is really SoldierMan’s dog, and Jeb is really mine. At least in a 60/40 sense.

Here’s what happened. Sunday evening I’m at home, with the dogs. As per usual. The dogs were playing, and they each had a “tug,” a rope. Achilles likes to chew on them, Jeb actually likes to tug. So I’m tugging with Jeb for, max, 2 minutes, and I look back, and Achilles no longer has his rope. It’s gone. And I pick him up and look under him and he’s just grinning at me. And I finally force myself to believe, he’s just swallowed a rope. Whole.

Now, if you’re new around here, you may not be aware that Achilles is famous for swallowing (and safely processing) all manner of random objects. Dirty underwear is his favorite. Folded pairs of socks, stuffed toys, whole rawhide bones, random pieces of garbage he finds in the backyard that have been in contact with food.

No, we don’t leave trash in the backyard. But these low rock “fences” and high winds means there’s always SOMETHING back there.


Immediately I start to panic. Ropes are not something to mess around with. So I put on some pants and load the dogs into the truck. There’s a new 7-days-a-week vet near our house, so that’s where we head. And the whole time Achilles is acting just fine. No discomfort at all. He’s super-excited to be going for a surprise car ride.

We get to the vet and explain what happened and sure enough, they’ve got to go in and get that sucker out of there. Here’s the hitch: this new facility doesn’t have all the big equipment they need to make that happen. We have to go to their other facility 20 minutes away for the actual procedure. Fantastic. So we loaded up again and drove to the other place.


They take Achilles back pretty much as soon as we get there, because they were prepping for him while we were en route. I should also mention that I had been sending SoldierMan email updates throughout this entire process, at that point already nearly two hours long. I debated whether or not to just wait until it was all resolved and then let him know what happened, but
A) I had already informed a few friends and family so that there would be somebody keeping me calm, and in case someone let something slip, I didn’t want him to find out on facebok, and
B) I was still worried that something might go wrong, and I didn’t want to just send him a single, blind-siding email after the fact. This is his boy, after all.

Jeb was pretty anxious during the whole process. He literally didn’t stop pacing the entire ~2 hours we were waiting. I had to alternate walking him in the parking lot and walking him in the wait area. Which was probably good for keeping me calm, too. Then the Vet Tech comes out and tells us Achilles is fine, we’re just waiting for him to wake up. And I kid you not, Jeb laid down right in the middle of the floor and smiled and relaxed.

He loves his brother.

Because it was after hours and it was literally just us, the Vet and the Vet Tech, they let us in the back to wait for Achilles to wake up. He was still totally unconscious when we went back. They were cleaning off the rope toy and asked if I wanted to keep it. If they were joking, they played it totally straight. Even after I said no. (Yuck!)

I figured it would take him a while to really come out of it, he’s always responded much more strongly to drugs than Jeb. And it did take him a while to really become aware. We waited until he could control his tongue (so there wouldn’t be a gag risk) and the Vet carried him to the truck and we went home.


He really “woke up” in the truck on the way home. Oh, he howled! And howled. And howled. Then we got home and I helped him climb out of the vehicle. He didn’t have a lot of strength, but I figured it was a good idea to get his blood flowing. And I kid you not, the first thing he did when he came inside was look for SoldierMan in all the “usual places.” When he finally figured out that SoldierMan wasn’t home (still) he gave up and started crying to go to bed.


It was a very, very long night. For one thing, he whined or cried constantly. Especially at first. If he couldn’t see me (with the light on) or feel me (with the light off) he CRIED. If he knew I was there, he just moaned. Constantly. Until he finally fell asleep. Then he had to get up several times in the night to go potty. And that was an adventure. I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say I’ve done more for this dog than I’ve ever done for any human ever. He owes me big.


Everyone’s fine now, but yesterday was brutal. We were all exhausted from getting next-to-no sleep. And Achilles was still uncomfortable, AND sleepy, which equals cranky. And still whining all day because he was sleepy and uncomfortable and cranky. And hungry, because he wouldn’t eat or drink anything most of the day. I couldn’t even get him to chew ice, which he normally loves. The only thing he would eat were some leftover Cheddar Bay Biscuits I had made for a get-together a few days earlier. And, since that’s all the sick puppy will eat, the sick puppy can eat as many as he wants, right?

That – that up there – is what my life was like for 24 solid hours. It was constant. He’s lucky I love him so much.

So that was our Sunday adventure. I’m SO glad I stayed home Sunday night! I was considering going to a Bible study that night, but didn’t really feel like getting out, so I stayed home. Had I left, it’s entirely possible he would have eaten that rope while I was gone. They have so many (much bigger and less swallow-able than that one) that I can guarantee I would not have noticed that rope was missing. Considering how A-OK Achilles acted all evening after he swallowed it, chances are I never would have figured out what happened until it was too late.

Thankfully, since I was home and practically saw it happen and reacted immediately, he didn’t even need surgery to get the rope out. (Oh, and to everyone who told me to try and make him vomit it out before taking him to the Vet, they said that’s a big no-no. The risk that he might choke himself to death is greater than the risk of complications from a procedure. So, don’t do that, k?)

Today, Achilles is just fine. Back to his old self. Playing, napping, eating, drinking, only whining when he doesn’t get his way (which is still pretty often).

In fact, I’m sure that before the day is over, he’ll be on twitter giving his side of everything that happened. When he wakes up.

And big, HUGE shout-outs to the Far East Animal Care Center and Northeast Veterinary Clinic of El Paso. The people at both facilities were fantastic. Granted, I’m used to the on-post vet people, who basically act like it’s inconvenient that you actually have a pet you try, and want to, you know, take care of it. Even though the pup-pups were worked up and large and hyper, never once did I get the typical dirty glares I’m used to on post. They even – wait for it – helped me fill out my paperwork! And everyone was really friendly and answered all my questions and explained everything thoroughly. I am super pleased with our experience at both facilities.


  1. Oh my goodness! I'm so glad he was ok and that you had a good experience with a wonderful vet.

    That video of him begging for attention HILARIOUS! The poor, poor neglected dog.

  2. So glad pup is OK - I know how much you both love those dogs.

    Can I say, though, that I loved this story? It was filled with love, but in an honest way. You didn't panic nor did you act like it was no big deal. It's hard to find that line between pets and people (we love both, but they are not the same!)

  3. Poor Achilles! I am glad everything went well.

  4. I love the Northeast Veterinary Clinic of El Paso, that is where Emma and Fishy go. So glad he is ok, it's scary when your babies are in pain and don't know what's going on.

  5. Ah! I'm glad he is okay! I can't even imagine having to break the news of a sick animal to a deployed husband. That was always one of my biggest fears! I hope he makes a smooth recovery.

    Sidenote: this is the second time in a week I have heard of an animal swallowing inappropriate objects requiring emergency intervention. I'm going to go talk to my cat now about safety.

  6. I felt the same way about the vet on post! They found a bump on Duke's gums and said if it didn't bother him, it could wait. Well it bothered me, and I took him to a different vet. She said it's a tumor and removed it. Fortunately it wasn't cancer, but from chronic gum disease. I've only ever been back to that vet to register Remy with them when we first got him. OH, and once with a stray little pup we found. They did scan her and had her owners in their system, so they took her until the owners could get her.

    So glad it was an easy procedure and not full surgery! Easier on everyone, and less expensive for you.

  7. Poor Puppy! I'm glad that he's alright and so sorry you had to deal with such a rough thing while SoldierMan was gone! I'm not sure what I'll do the next time my Hubby deploys I'll be left with four kids and a dog! I hope this is the last adventure of its kind while SoldierMan is gone

  8. Oh wow!! What an ordeal! I'm glad he's ok!!!

  9. awe my gosh! That video...Harlee (my pup) likes to whine like that too. It's crazy how much pups are similar to little kids. :)

    Just came across your blog, I'd love for you to come check out mine, if you have a moment!


I was nice and didn't turn on word verifications. Please reciprocate by having your reply-to email set and not posting anonymously.