October 27, 2021

The $4,000 Mexican Blanket

For the story to be told well enough to understand, this could will be a long post. Since it starts on Sunday afternoon, it has been a hectic three days. I left the house like I have every since I put the fence up, hounds and the dog have free reign of the property while I am gone. I "Watson Proofed" the counters before I left. Only to come back home with a large thick glass laying on the floor broken into a few pieces. I could find most of the large pieces, all but one, so I knew that was a better sign than the original image.

It had some ice cubes and what was left of cranberry juice in that glass, sitting on a kitchen wash rag in the middle of the counter. NO WAY he could reach that far, surely? Well his strong paws must have been able to reach the edge of that rag because it was pulled to the edge of the counter and stopped as the glass fell to the floor.

I hooked up my radar for any kind of sparking glass in his stools for the next day or two. Nothing showed up like that. He acted his normal bloodhound puppy high energy obnoxiousness so things seemed normal. Monday progressed with nothing out of the ordinary and things looked good after that scare of glass inside his intestines.

Tuesday morning about 4:10am I wake up in the dark to that too familiar sound that all dog owners hear at times ... "heaving and getting ready to vomit". I hopped out of bed and had the light switch turned on within a couple of steps. I don't remember my feet ever touching the floor. A loud Noooooo may have been heard. It was minor actually. Some small sticks and a few very small pieces of the few leaves that had turned yellow. I told Walter to take over and we were going back to sleep. I did clean everything up before going back to sleep.  

We start the daily routine where the hounds and the dog are fed. Protocols have been put in place to keep Watson from eating his food and their food. He has calmed down a lot with that in the past few weeks. Normal, everything looks normal until about 10 minutes later. Luckily he was outside when it happened. His two cups of Fromm kibble for large breed puppies filled the backyard it seemed. I swear it looked like twice as much came out as what went in.

Yet he walks over to the outdoor waterfowl like nothing happened ... drank his normal quantity and went back to sleep ... almost ... before he took a step inside the house he turned and trotted to the yard again to vomit out all the water he just drank.

We have problems.

This photo was taken later Tuesday afternoon and I will eventually get there with my words. You can tell by his ears, his tail and is facial expression he is definitely not feeling good. I sit at the computer, go to Yelp because that is the best "list of" all the vets in the area. I start calling like I did in June when I tried to get an appointment for Stella ... I had the same results as I did in June. 16 vet offices answer the phone and told me with a real voice, not a computer, "we are not taking new clients" ... "but what about a 6 month old puppy that has ingested something and is puking his guts out." ... "sorry, you will have to call the emergency vet tonight at 6pm." Can you believe that s***????

I remained calmed because I knew I couldn't loose my cool over the phone, I had to find a vet for Watson. He had been sleeping most of the day, had been drinking water on a regular basis and then would go back to sleep so he was hanging in there. I was on the phone must of the day.

Late afternoon I did a few laps with him around the yard hoping to see some kind of urination or him giving me a stool sample. As you can see in the above photo he is not his normal self. Finally I had my sample of a solid stool with bright red, some blues, some off whites strings and then thick thread intertwined in the stool sample and practically covering it. I could tell it was part of a Mexican blanket.

I headed to the bedroom, lifted his Mexican blanket off the floor and as I raised it above my head so I could see all of it ... there it was, the biggest hole in the blanket that I did not see when it was folded in half on the floor. It was twice the size of any basketball goal. He had been eating his blanket and I did not know it.

NONE of his vomit was showing signs of a blanket. It was mostly clear water, some kibble from that morning and some small bits of wood from the sticks blown into the yard on Monday night.

As he walked around the yard looking uncomfortable, his stomach was not inflated like he was having bloat. I felt under his chest and that felt okay. When I placed my hands only on the sides of his stomach, I had not even squeezed it yet ... he let out a cry you would thought I had stabbed him with a knife. I barely had my hands on him. THAT was painful and very sensitive.

It was after 5pm most vets were closed and everyone I called their recording said "If it is an emergency call the VCA Emergency clinic", the same one that took forever to euthanize Stella in June. I said I would never go back there, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I call and get their recorded message that they are not open, they then give their office hours. Well they normally open at 6pm and are staffed by local vets in the area on a rotation basis. ONLY THEY ARE NOT OPEN ON TUESDAYS due to lack of veterinarians. ????? 

What??? How can that be. There are 16 vet offices in this area.

So I did a search on the internet "Emergency Vet services in Indiana" ... I wanted the whole state. I called and called those that were listed as emergency services all the way up to Bloomington Indiana ... no answer. Nothing was open.

So I reassessed the Watsons situation.
  • He has drank water all day but cannot hold it down.
    • Yet he did pee twice on Tuesday
  • He pooped three times on Tuesday, all solid stools
    • Could he still have an intestinal blockage and still do that?? I did not know.
  • Stomach is painful to the touch
  • Not acting normal but not lethargic
  • Felt like a normal heart beat.
I decided to make him as comfortable as possible, without that Mexican blanket, and let him sleep.

Then he fools me ... he walks into the garage as I am getting more dog blankets, and while standing stretches out each rear leg as far as possible, one leg at a time, then wags his tail in the normal upward position and TROTS back inside the house!

Now I am a little confused but it is late enough to go to bed. (8pm). He is asleep on Walter;s sleeping bag within minutes. He drank a ton of water from the large water bowl in the garage. (good for rainy days). And 40 minutes later he had not vomited that water back up like he did every time during the day. That had to be a good sign.

I knew when I went to bed Tuesday night that I was taking him to some vet as an emergency case.

He wakes me up again around 4am heaving again but nothing is coming out, his stomach is empty. Finally around 5:30am all of us get up except him and he is not moving. I had to get on my hands and knees to see if I could see some kind of breathing under his black coat, it was that shallow. He didn't move while I fed Walter and Henry. THAT proved he is really messed up. He LOVES food and follows me to the mud room  to eat before he even goes outside like the other two do first thing in the morning.

I look at nearby towns for vets I did not call on Tuesday. 25 miles away in Booneville IN, I call knowing they were closed but left a message on their machine. I told them a few symptoms, what he had eaten the past two days and I would be there before they opened in an emergency situation. I didn't want to give them a chance to say no.

As I was getting ready to leave, coat, dog leash, shot records, etc ... Walter always knows when I am leaving and gets really hyper. He will always find his bright orange REI bone that Sadie use to play fetch with but would never chew ... well Walter will chew the hell out of that bone when he knows I am leaving. He could tell this wasn't a normal trip to the store which made him even more anxious and more crazy over that bone.

The hardest part of the 25 mile trip in 44 minutes was getting Henry under control. He sees any leash and he thinks he is going in the car or going for a walk. Walter is now barking giving instructions and I am trying to get a leashed sick Watson out the front door. Now the last time I was taking Henry and Walter to the vet at the same time, Henry bolted the front door yanking my arm where my right shoulder still hurts today two months later. He ran across the street that day inside the neighbors garage ... leading me to buy him an Apple iTag in case he really got away from me.

There was only one thing to do ... put Henry and Walter in the backyard with the patio door closed in the dark so I could get Watson out the door and into the back of the FJ. Henry won't budge from the front door until I move the dog leash from Watson to Henry ... he takes off running for the backyard with the leash on ... I swear he knows what he is doing and is only playing games with me.

Bottom line ... Watson walked calmly out the front door with the leash on, stood at the back of the FJ as I lifted him up onto Heidi's dog bed that I had moved to the back of the FJ for a softer ride for him. He slept the whole way. He didn't even bark or get up when I got out of the FJ about 15 minutes before this place I had not talked to, opened. But their doors were open. They had two ladies at the front desk. I told my story, told them I had three messages on their phone when they turned them on at 8am and handed her his shot records.

I got my first basset hound in 1987 and I have had hounds since then, never a break, always had at least two since 1991. That means I have seen my share of vetinarians. Some good, some bad, some I have written about here ... today ... this place was THE BEST I had ever experienced.

It wasn't long after I filled out the paperwork telling them my info, Watsons info and yes I will pay the bill when I pick the dog up. Within minutes after I handed that paper back, they were having me weigh him ... 66 pounds at 6 months ... pretty normal for a bloodhound puppy. He looks like skin and bones. I had barely sat back down when they called me to the exam room ... so much different than my last vet experience. I use to wait over an hour at my vets in Arizona, just to get into the exam room. Then another 30 minutes before the doctor showed up.

The tech took all the notes from my answers to her questions and within minutes after that the doctor walked in and asked what was going on.

Of course Watson seemed to be feeling much better than he did just hours before where it looked like he couldn't get up to walk. Now his tail is not upright wagging but he is wagging his tail and has greeted every employee he has seen. It was like he was faking me out and the past two days were just a dream.

The doctor felt his stomach. He let her do that without screaming bloody murder because he knows she is going to help him. She stood up and said "I can feel something in his intestines and would like to X-ray if that is okay with you" ... she took his leash and he walked with her wagging his tail. She told me she would be back in about 10 minutes with an answer.

I didn't time her but she probably didn't take much longer than that. So I will be brief from here on.
  • she showed me the x-rays on her laptop, showing me the normal size of the intestine and the thick long dark object almost 5x bigger than normal by my estimation.
  • in his stomach looked like a small lava rock from the corner of the house landscaping. He brought me one just like it Monday morning and tossed it at my desk chair while I was on the computer.
  • She told me all that could happen, what that string might have done to the intestines and it would be a long surgery.
  • She would call me after she was finished with what she found.
He came out of surgery very well.
  • No perforations to the intestine
  • It had not intertwined with the intestine
  • A large piece of long Mexican blanket that he had tore off and swallowed
  • They saw the "rock shaped" object in his stomach on x-rays but could not find it in his stomach
    • They did clean out a lot of small wood chips and very small pieces of leaves from his stomach
  • Found no signs of the glass anywhere
  • Did NOT have to remove any intestines
Not only will he stay the night but they have staff there all night with the dogs and cats that have had surgery. After a day of IV's today and sleep, they will give him some Hill I/D food tomorrow and see if he can hold it down. By the afternoon I should be able to bring him home unless he is still vomiting. IF he is, he will stay another day. I called them around 3:30pm to see how he was doing and he had been sleeping most of the day after surgery.

Lucky lucky hound. 

So obviously a new plan will have to be implemented for the times I am away from the house. You would think with that nice fenced yard he could stay out there in good weather while I am gone, or even the heated garage (its own heater) in the winter ... but facts are facts ... Watson is a puppy and a bloodhound that has a nose second to none. Whatever I would put up to puppy proof the area, his nose would lead him to something else to ingest that I had not seen or wouldn't expect him to eat.

He will have to use Stella's crate with all the small Brinks padlocks blocking all the ways she use to escape out of the crate. He will howl, and bark, he won't like it but Henry will be there and Walter will not leave that crates side while I am gone to make sure that Watson is okay.

I know that how? 

Walter use to do the same with Stella in Arizona when he was a puppy and here after we moved. In both places he would try to pull those padlocks off for her to get out. I have seen him do that with my own eyes. 

The estimate told to me before surgery was $3,000 to $4,000 dollars. I figure any amount below that higher number will be a bonus and this is worth every dollar spent to have him out of trouble and soon back to his bloodhound puppy obnoxiousness. I will also not be surprised if it is higher after a night stay and any additional meds.

Never a dull moment in "the tropics" of Southern Indiana but I am sure happy he dodged a bullet.


  1. Wow! Scary times. I am so glad he will be okay-and that it looks like you have found a good vet!

    1. One thing I noticed right off the back. A huge facility to handle a large number of clients at the same time. The other was cramped. I have never had a hound have a blockage although they have ate many things but have passed through their system. Winston was a notorious 'eater' of everything ... it was gross sometimes.

  2. Well our Labrador breeder once told me that Labs are garbage cans (will eat anything) and I guess that same can be said for Bloodhounds too! So fortunate to have found a good vet and who was able to do the surgery ASAP. Goods thoughts and a prayer for Watson's swift recovery. Take care.

    1. Thanks. Winston was like that. He would see me running to get something out of his mouth and swallow it before I got there. Yes, very fortunate to find someone.

  3. Steve, that was scary. I bet your heart was in your stomach all day. I am amazed at how tuned in you are to each of your dogs moods and actions. Lucky dogs. Hopefully its a better day.

    1. They called me about 30 minutes ago and said he slept through the night and is up and about. They will give him some food this morning to see how he reacts. Digest it he comes home this afternoon, if he vomits it will not be until tomorrow. It is so easy to let the dogs roam the backyard on their own with the fence but looks like I am going to have to keep an eye on him from now on so he sticks to chewing on his bones

  4. Oh my goodness... that is awful! and to have such a time finding a vet.. really? there doesn't seem to be much caring in Indiana... am fortunate to have a really good one here... think i pay a little much, BUT they get good care.

    1. Good vets are hard to come by. I ran into the same problem with vet availability before I moved from Sierra Vista. IF you could get an appointment it would be weeks out if not a month.

  5. Oh my gosh, I would have been terrified! Why do dogs have to be indiscriminate eaters? Especially when they're well-fed. So scary! I'm so, so glad it turned out OK. I'm not understanding why it's so hard to find vets these days; I don't remember it being an issue in days past. I'm so glad all turned out well.

    Renee (Aztec NM)

    1. They say during the pandemic there were that many people buying new dogs and cats. The system is overwhelmed with new clients and not enough vets. Thank you, he also is glad it turned out well. Sorry it took me so long to reply, blogger has decided I guess that I don't need to be notified anymore when I get a new comment.

  6. I WAS giving him more liberty since he is acting normal but no more. Last night walked in from the dark yard with a landscape lava rock. I poured a pile of them in a low spot next to the corner of my house last summer. I am not putting a muzzle on him every time he goes outside. The thing with bloodhounds is their nose is so strong they find things then they have to grab it with their mouth to get more data about the object.

    Sorry I didn't reply sooner, for some reason Blogger has decided I do not need to be notified when someone makes a new comment.