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TideWriters Tales
Two Yellow Labs ~ Part Two
By Sharon Slaughter

     The voice on the phone said, "I hear your dog has a taste for the higher games of life." Doctor Skinner's sense of humor was like a cool drink to a hot thirsty person. Katie, my older, calm, friendly, loyal, perfect Therapy Dog, had eaten, to my horror, the plastic game pieces of a Chess and Checker Set that had belonged to my children. Now Miss Kate was not just uncomfortable, but in what could be serious physical trouble. "So, what do you suggest I do for Katie?" I inquired of the good doctor. "Feed her about 12 cotton balls. Make sure the cotton is 100% pure. You can mix some warm milk with the cotton and maybe some banana if she likes that. After she eats the mixture call me back," replied my vet.

     It was off to the Med Shop for me, where I purchased their last bag of 100% pure cotton balls. Upon my return home I counted out 12 balls putting them in Katie's food dish mixed in 1/2 cup warmed milk and 1/2 ripe banana. Miss Kate gobbled up the mixture as if she were a starved animal true to her breed's nature. Then Miss Kate went over and lay by the warm wood-burning stove with a strange groan. 

     "She ate all of your prescription. Should I feed Katie her regular evening meal, too?" I ask Dr. Skinner. "Feed Katie her regular dinner. Then watch her carefully for vomiting, blood. from either end—front or rear—and be sure and examine her stools if there are any. Call me if she starts any vomiting or you see any blood. Otherwise, just phone me at the office early tomorrow morning and give me a report. We will have to find out if there is going to be any kind of blockage," said the vet. 

     Katie ate her usual evening meal. Then she returned to her favorite warm spot beside the stove with that painful groan as she lay down. Miss Kate was miserable, but continued being her loving self. For bedtime I prepared a special place for Katie downstairs. I was expecting some kind of awful mess and Katie's usual sleeping place in my bedroom upstairs was inconvenient to the back door. As I went upstairs for the night I strongly felt justified in leaving Katie in her place downstairs. No sooner did I get into bed that the small barks begin reminding me, "Hey, you forgot me. Come get me. I always sleep in your room at night." Defeated after more than 30 minutes of gentle Katie barks I went downstairs and let Katie out of her special place and we went to bed in our room as usual. For most of the night we slept well. 

     At 6 a.m. Katie rose from her bed and coughed. I sprang from my bed to discover a twisted pile of brown cotton wrapped around several pieces of sharp plastic. Amazing. As I stared at the tangled dry mess Katie gave a second cough and up came another pile of stuff. Then Miss Kate looked up and gave me her usual good-morning greeting with that "Hey! Tis time for breakfast!" wag of her tail. "Oh no you don't, Miss Kate!" I spoke to her with strong measure of resolve. "No breakfast for you, until after I speak with Dr. Skinner." 
The conversation with Dr. Skinner was brief. I was to bring Miss Kate to the office for a barium test. So it was that Miss Kate spent the entire day at the hospital. Along about 5 p.m. I drove to the hospital to pick up Miss Kate. It was a joyous time for the two of us. Before Katie even got into the car for the trip home she had her favorite drink—Coke®, ice and water. All was well. I needed to watch Miss Kate carefully for the next few days, but her tests indicated thus far that Miss Kate did not have a blockage of any kind nor any internal bleeding. I was to check her stools over the next several days for any sign of trouble and the passage of the red, black, and white game pieces.

     Over the next forty-eight hours Miss Kate passed the remaining game pieces without difficulty. I learned from Dr. Steve Skinner that the cotton ball procedure is a first line of assistance for dogs that might have swallowed a sharp object. It in NO way replaces a doctor's care for an animal.
I have known Katie since she was about eight months old. Because of Katie I have learned more about canine first aid out of necessity than I ever knew existed. Not all Labrador Retrievers are the “oddest-things-happen-to-me” variety. Pooh, the Lab, in part one of "Two Yellow Labs" can and does eat awful stuff without causing me a huge vet bill. It seems my fate that Katie teaches me canine first aid while I learn from Pooh humility because of her embarrassing behavior. Both dogs enrich my life. Both dogs make me a better person. The Bible says, " A righteous man regardeth (cares for) the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." Proverbs 12:10 

     In May we celebrate "Be Kind to Animals" week. Over this past year I have done some animal rescue work. There are many organizations where people can go for help where animals are concerned. Last fall a lady, who in my opinion is a "Saint", brought a dog to a tattoo clinic that had no feet. The lady with help from others had rescued the dog as a pup after it had been left outside and sustained frostbite. Once someone dumped a calico cat out near my house. I was unaware of the cat until her kittens started running through the walls of my old house. The kittens and their mother had to be trapped by the animal warden and taken to the animal shelter to be put to sleep because they were all wild. Man's cruelty to animals relates to man's inhumanity to man. Yeah! My dogs make me a better and wiser person. I hope you can say the same for yourself. 

© 2001 Sharon Slaughter All rights reserved. 

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