Tails About Town: Emergency Surgery

It all happened so quickly. I blinked and before I knew it Fletcher had leapt into the air, grabbed the sausage on a skewer from my hand and charged to the end of the garden. I panicked and chased him but it was too late. In two gulps the sausage had gone. Skewer included.

It was Fletcher’s birthday. He was five. We’d spent a lovely sunny day in the garden with family, putting the finishing touches to our garden project. Fletcher had been helping by brushing against wet paint. He’s ears, back and legs were now a combination of cream and grey. Multiple lessons were learnt on this day; the first being never paint a fence with a spaniel that likes to be involved in everything!

We finished the day with a BBQ. Ironically the sausage on the skewer was in fact for Fletcher as a birthday treat. He was just too impatient to let me remove it from the skewer first. That evening I let Fletcher sleep in our room as I was worried he would become unwell in the night.


The next day he was fine. Bouncing around. He went for two long walks. Splashed in the stream. The usual. Google advised feeding bread to a dog who had swallowed a stick. We did so and again he continued to be fine.

However 48 hours later after his dinner, he came into my office and flumped on the floor. He got up, fell again and screamed. The most awful high pitch squeal. I panicked. I wish there was an emergency line for animals. I called the vets and explained the situation. I picked up Fletcher, rushed him to the car and headed to Bishop’s Stortford Veterinary Hospital, where a vet was waiting for us.

They carried out several blood tests and an x-ray, however a stomach full of food prohibited seeing any foreign object. Fletcher was rushed off and hooked up to a drip with pain killers, while my husband and I nervously waited at home for a phone call.

At 8pm, the vet called. They still couldn’t see any blockage, but Fletcher was in pain. We had a choice. They could take him into surgery and open his stomach but we’d run the risk of sepsis as the food could leak out and cause serious complications. Or we wait until the morning, hope that he had passed the skewer and was just uncomfortable. But there would be a risk if he got worse through the night the vet would be operating on a very sick dog in the morning.

We took a few minutes to think about our options. Had we seen a skewer in his poo the day before? We couldn’t be sure, but we had seen something. Is Fletcher being dramatic? He is a sensitive soul. Let’s not forget the time he acted exactly like this after swimming. After multiple x-rays and scans, he just had wind! Was this the same?

Before we’d come to a decision the vet had called again and told us she was taking him to surgery, he was in too much pain. I was a wreck and I laid on the floor crying for a good hour. You can see why Fletcher is dramatic, he takes after his mum!

At midnight we got the call. He was out of surgery, still sedated but ok. They had removed a five inch skewer perfectly intact from his stomach. It had been millimetres from perforating.

We were allowed to see Fletcher a couple of days later. He was doing well, but unfortunately he wouldn’t eat. Armed with a Tupperware of chicken we went to see our boy. It was a sad sight. He could just about muster up a little tail wag. We tried taking him for a little walk around the courtyard but he only wanted to curl up in his bed. We had no luck feeding him either.

Two days later, he still hadn’t eaten, and the vet suggested a feeding tube would need to be inserted into his stomach if he didn’t eat in the next 24 hours. We decided to take him home, hoping he’d feel more comfortable.

He is fussy with food. He will never finish a bowl of dinner, only likes certain brands and he will never take food from a stranger. At home I tried some boiled chicken with no luck so I decided to dot it around the house hoping he’d eat it in his own time. After a few hours of cuddles on the sofa, he perked up and thankfully followed the trail of chicken. Phew!


The days that followed were slow. Fletcher was feeling sorry for himself and had oddly become mute. It took at least a week for him to find his voice. Perhaps I should’ve appreciated the silence, as he is now back to full health, bouncing around, whining and demanding food every hour. This incident has given him a raging appetite!

It was a very stressful week, lessons were learnt and we’ll certainly never have a BBQ with skewers again. I’ll also never moan about the mess Fletcher makes, I missed his dog hair and dirty paw prints on my floor. I’ll never complain about his squealing, the house is far too quiet without him. I knew I loved him more than I should for a dog, but when I thought I was going to lose him, it has made me love him even more!



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