Vet examining dog's ear

It’s all fun and games until someone ends up in a cone. So say those of us inclined to appropriate T-shirt witticisms whenever the need arises. In my home, the need arose last week when my Slumdog got his eye poked out. 

Two dogs were playing, rowdiness ensued, one thing led to another, and next thing I knew, an eyeball was hanging outside its socket. Yes, a real horror show.

Making Do in an Emergency

“Oh, my God,” was the first thing that came to mind. (I may even have yelled it.) Things have a way of moving in slow motion whenever the you-know-what hits the fan — and a dog’s proptosed eye (that’s what we vets call this occurrence) definitely qualifies.

When it happened, it was well after clinic hours, and I was, uncharacteristically, home alone. No boyfriend. No 16-year-old. And, of course, no tech. Just a towel, some sterile lube left over from my kidding (birthing goats) days, plenty of eye meds and some anti-inflammatory pain pills.

It wasn’t exactly the most sophisticated moment of my veterinary career. Slumdog’s eye would live to see the real veterinary me in the morning (when I could anesthetize him for more appropriate treatment).  

Though it goes without saying that you should not try this at home, the story turned out well. It’s only been a week, and his eye is no longer painful, bloody or swollen. What’s more, he can already see out of it.

As I was telling someone the story of Slumdog’s ocular escapade (Pugs and other bug-eyed dogs are predisposed to such problems), I realized that other human beings — nonveterinarians, that is — find the details of this account somewhat nauseating.

The Odious Hit List Continues

Veterinarians are often in positions to see incredibly disgusting things. And though Slumdog’s eye was definitely the grossest thing that happened to me last week, there were plenty of other nasties I attended in the course of my days.

Consider the four next-most atrocious things I was treated to just last week:

  • Two limb amputations. Luckily, these two procedures weren’t required on the same patient. Nonetheless, two kittens were so mangled after being hit by cars (what are the odds of seeing two in one week?) that I had to remove what was left of each of their damaged limbs.
  • Dental abscesses. As per usual, my week also included the extraction of abscessed teeth. These are always ugly, but they’re especially gross when the infection leads to a fistulous tract that comes through the skin of the face underneath the eye. In last week’s case, the owner was convinced that the dog had been shot with a BB gun. But no: It was just a garden-variety abscess sustained after he’d cracked his teeth on the rocks he likes to chew.
  • Putrid ears. There’s something about pus coming out of an ear that grosses me out. It’s pretty nasty when an ear gets that far along, and last week’s stinker was no exception.
  • Anal gland abscess. Poor little Frenchie. He came in on Saturday feeling feverish and sad. The hemispherical red lump at 8 o’clock to his anus pretty much gave it away: He had an anal gland abscess. Once I alleviated the swelling by lancing the lump (using a little twilight anesthetic), his fever came right down — but the smell of that nasty thing stuck with me all day.

Being a veterinarian can be a dirty job. But somebody’s gotta have a cast-iron stomach.