Doing Time in the Waiting Room

An inconclusive visit to the veterinary ER.


It’s June, and northern California, so we’re here (probably) for a foxtail. My tenant left the side gate to my office/house open, and Odin was out in the (unfenced!) front yard for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour – grr! I looked up from my computer when I heard the sound of vomiting and glanced around me to find the source of the sound. I simultaneously noticed that Odin was not lying on the office couch with Woody as per usual and that the vomiting sound was coming from the front yard. I stood and looked out the window, and there was Odin, puking on the front lawn.

I went out and called him, and he looked up at me miserably, giving a weak tail wag. “I don’t feel so good!” I brought him in the house and got a fork, with which to poke through the vomit, to try to determine what he ate that was making him throw up. It looked like it was entirely comprised of his breakfast kibble and a lot of grass – fortunately, no sign of rotten things or chicken bones or rat poison. But then, over the next couple of hours, he kept having strange hiccuping sessions, with moments of gagging. It could be that his esophagus is just irritated. Or it could be he has a foxtail stuck in there somehere. Only one way to find out.

You can’t wait with foxtails. The longer the grass awns have been in a dog, whether between his toes or up his nose or down his ear, the more damage they cause. If you can get them out on the first day, the bill will be less. So here we are.

Also here: An old Labrador, lumpy with (presumably, I hope) lipomas. He’s shaking with anxiety and balking a bit, and his owner gives the leash a rough yank. Oh, c’mon. Why do people do that at a time like this?

I watched a lovely black and white Standard Poodle, immaculately groomed. She’s pulling for the front door, and her owner stops for a moment and says something to her in a quiet voice. She immediately stops pulling, circles back to his side, and they resume their walk to the front door at a sedate pace. That’s better.

A lady sits near us, waiting to pick up her dog. Odin strains to reach her, wagging his tail. She smiles and asks if she can pet him. “He’ll jump in your lap!” I warn her, laughing. “He will kiss you on the lips!” He does just that as she giggles and wraps her arms around him in a warm embrace, and he buries his head in her chest. “I have had my rescue dog for six years, and she’s never let me do that!” she exclaims. Wow. I can’t even imagine.

We had a three-hour wait for a room. After observing Odin’s hiccups and hard swallowing, the vet sedated Odin to examine his throat. Four hours and a nap in my car later I picked up a still dopey pup; the vet hadn’t found anything besides irritated tonsils, but at least we know. Life with dogs!