a peek inside the fishbowl

25 May, 2011

We prefer to think of it as a bionic listening device

Posted by andrea tomkins in: dog stuff

The saddest dog in the world

She was licking her front paw incessantly. Actually, the first thing I noticed was that she’d licked a whole patch of the hardwood floor in the office. I looked at the pad of her foot. One of her toes and part of the pad was grossly swollen. Mark, who was home sick yesterday, took a look too. The only thing we could see was the results of lots of licking and chewing.

Our regular vet couldn’t see her. I called another, they couldn’t see her until much later in the afternoon. I called Alta Vista Animal Hospital. Did you know they offer 24 hour emergency care? It works like a people hospital. Incoming patients are assessed as they arrive. Emergency cases get top priority, and other ones follow. Anyway, this wasn’t an emergency per se, I just couldn’t get in anywhere any sooner. They were very nice on the phone and said it wouldn’t be too long of a wait. So off I went.

I tried not to cry in the car on the way there.

I racked my brains trying to think of what it could be. We’d been on a walk that morning and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Was it glass, a sliver, a bee sting? Was it poison ivy from a visit to my mother’s place on Sunday? (I found out later that dogs aren’t affected by it apparently.)

I really liked the vet who checked Piper out, but after the examination it turned out he couldn’t tell what was going on either. Her paw was swollen and there were no clues as to why. So he sent Piper home with a shaved and bandaged leg, some anti-inflammatories, and a prescription for antibiotics should we decide we needed them … which I appreciated, as it might save us a return trip. Also, he didn’t suggest X-rays, which was a relief. X-rays are EXPENSIVE. We agreed that it didn’t appear as though anything was broken.

We received excellent care at Alta Vista. The staff were all very friendly and patient and I now understand why people love them as much as they do.

Suffice it to say our visit wasn’t cheap. (If there is anyone out there who is thinking of getting a dog and wouldn’t be able to make a mortgage payment because of a $212 vet bill, well, don’t get a dog.)

My wallet is hurting but Piper doesn’t seem to be in any pain. She sure suffered with her cone last night. Man, she hates that thing. And who can blame her. It’s embarrassing to have to wear a hard plastic satellite dish around your neck in front of your friends and family.

I stayed up with her and tried to make her comfortable, finally taking the cone off around 3:00 a.m., but then I had to watch her to make sure she didn’t chew her bandage. It was a long night. In fact, it felt just like having babies again!

I am feeling totally zonked this morning. I predict that this day is going to be a writeoff.

Piper is cone-free at the moment, but I can tell, she is feeling depressed. She’s snoozing in her bed right now, with her bandaged paw positioned awkwardly away from her face. Poor thing.

15 Responses to "We prefer to think of it as a bionic listening device"

1 | Bob LeDrew

May 25th, 2011 at 9:21 am


Having spent more than $2K on one of our cats in the last month, I feel your pain. (yay, Coop’s stitches come out tonight!)

2 | Natalie

May 25th, 2011 at 9:29 am


Oh I feel your pain. We have an old Golden and we’ve been around that block a few times. Poor Piper.

3 | Sherry

May 25th, 2011 at 11:14 am


Poor Piper, I hope she’s feeling better soon.

4 | Javamom

May 25th, 2011 at 11:50 am


They all have that look don’t they…”but mom, why do I have to wear a lamp shade??” lol

Hope she (and you) feel better soon.

5 | Capital Mom

May 25th, 2011 at 1:32 pm


We just read a book about a little boy whose dog had a cone and he decorated it like a lion’s mane so the dog wouldn’t be sad. Just a suggestion. :-)

6 | Melissa Flynn

May 25th, 2011 at 6:33 pm


Awww poor Piper! Alta Vista is the bees knees when you’re in a pinch and need to see a vet stat. My cairn terrier Rory started peeing blood randomly one evening last fall. It was a Saturday night around 8pm, so obviously her vet wasn’t available. I called Alta Vista, they were calm (I wasn’t!) and we were in and out in 30 minutes. Rory managed to get a staph infection in her bladder, OUCH!!! The bill was about $300, but man, I was so relieved they were there when I needed them!

7 | Reno post #008 - The hydro hydra >> a peek inside the fishbowl

May 26th, 2011 at 10:22 am


[…] you for your comments and tweets about my post yesterday. Piper is better today. […]

8 | sara

May 26th, 2011 at 2:35 pm


My brother and his family had a very scary experience with their dog, Sam, a few years back. On the way up to the cottage, he started acting strange. I don’t remember the initial symptoms but they could tell something was off.

They actually stopped at a small vet in town who said he “seemed kind of bloated”, but didn’t seem too concerned. They continued on to the cottage. Sam was down at the water when he took a turn for the worst. He was struggling to breathe, his tongue and gums were losing colour. My brother had to carry him up the hill and into their truck. This is a 90 pound dog.

Back to the vet, who now saw how serious the situation was and called the Ottawa Veterinary Hospital. He had “bloat”. I had never heard of such a thing. Doesn’t sound serious but it can be deadly in hours. His intestines were twisted, cutting off oxygen to his organs, he would die if they didn’t get him to surgery quickly. They raced back to the Ottawa hospital,where he was operated on immediately. Over the next few days he received constant monitoring and multiple blood transfusions. It cost them many thousands of dollars with no guarantee he could be saved. Luckily, Sam did make a full recovery! He is now their 6 year old, silly, energetic million dollar dog with many years left in him I’m sure:)

The cost really can be shocking, but the care he received was amazing and saved his life. I’m so glad my brother felt it was worth doing what they could. Their dog Sam was only three at the time and a member of their family. They were lucky they could “afford” it even if it meant postponing finishing their basement as they’d planned.

After watching them go through such a terrifying experience we ended up getting pet insurance. Hopefully we’ll never need it, but its reassuring knowing the money is there. Can’t imagine living in a country where these kinds of decisions need to be made for your children.

Anyway, thank you for letting me share their story and thanks to all the hard working veterinarians out there taking such good care of our precious pets!

9 | BeachMama

May 27th, 2011 at 2:00 pm


our dogs (dog now) get strange bumps all the time, could be a bug bit, could have stepped on a stick or something, we would always wait it out before heading to the vet since they usually couldn’t figure it out either and we spent a lot of money wondering what it was.

10 | Sara

May 27th, 2011 at 10:35 pm


I love Brie’s suggestion! How about a frilled neck lizard?

Glad Piper is okay. So hard they can’t tell you what the problem is.

11 | Simple Life Journey

May 28th, 2011 at 12:36 am


What a difficult thing to go through.

And what an adorable, sad, perfect picture.

12 | Karinny

May 31st, 2011 at 3:10 pm


Also, think about getting health insurance if you don’t have one, we pay around $25 a month but I has paid off when we needed an overnight stay at the hospital.

13 | Marla

July 15th, 2011 at 12:34 pm


Did anyone suggest it’s a Lick Granuloma?


14 | A Piper update >> a peek inside the fishbowl

September 20th, 2011 at 10:19 am


[…] of the last things I wrote about Piper included a very sad photo of her and her bionic listening device. Well, I have some other interesting dog-related health news to […]

15 | We should have called her Snowy >> a peek inside the fishbowl

March 20th, 2012 at 7:55 am


[…] to scary conclusions when something small when wrong. Remember this? Turned out to be pretty much nothing. It’s hard being a doggy parent sometimes, isn’t […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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