The Service Bell Debacle

On a tip from another Aussie owner, we put a service bell by each door and were teaching Noonan to ring the bell when she needed to go outside. This went pretty well the first couple weeks, then she decided that the bells were great toys. Instead of leaving them by the door, she carried them around the house and played with them.

About 2 weeks ago, I put them away to see if she’d lose interest over time. 3 days ago, I put them back and found out that the interest was definitely still there.

While we were eating dinner a few nights ago, the pup went and got one of the bells to play with. She’s done this quite a bit, so it wasn’t really anything I thought twice about. Partway through dinner, I looked over at her and saw that she was playing with something that looked like part of the bell. Hmm, perhaps not so good.

Sure enough, she’d somehow gotten it apart. I found 3 pieces of the bell but could find the fourth – the threaded top that holds it all together. Yep, she’d probably eaten it.

I got the other bell and screwed the top piece out to get a better idea of what was in my pup’s stomach. It didn’t have any real sharp edges, and I figured the best thing to do would be to let nature take its course – but I decided to call the vet just in case.

My vet’s office was closed and the recording had the number for a local animal hospital, so I gave them a call. I spoke with an assistant who also thought it probably wasn’t a big deal, but then got a call back from that assistant a few minutes later.

Apparently she had spoken to a doctor there who said that there was potential for zinc poisoning (if the piece of metal contained zinc), and that we should make the pup throw up. To do this, we had to feed her a 1.5 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide – yuck!

We did it and sure enough, in about 10 minutes the pup emptied her stomach for us. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any metal in what came back up. I called the animal hospital back and they told me it was imperative that I bring her in right away. Ok, on our way.

The lady on the phone had told me that they would give her an IV to make the pup throw up – which made little sense to me since she’d already tossed her cookies when we gave her the hydrogen peroxide. I showed the vet what she’d swallowed and vet kinda looked at me and told me it would probably pass on its own. Ok, good to hear – but then why were we told to rush in?

The vet offered to do an x-ray so we could see if the metal was indeed in there before we discussed what to do next. Funny how well metal shows up on an x-ray.

So the little metal object was in there, but it had already passed through her stomach into the top of her intestine. That meant that the only option to go get it was surgical. Yikes! The vet recommended, and we agreed, that it would be best to let it pass on its own.

At no time during the visit were we told how much anything was going to cost, and to be fair, I didn’t ask. However when we got the bill, I was still a little taken aback.

The $180 for the x-ray ($60 to read the x-ray, c-mon) was a more than I expected, but it was the charge for the physical that really irked me. Noonan had a physical when she got her final shots the day before and certainly didn’t need a physical, nor had I agreed that she should be given one.

I came out of there very glad that the pup wasn’t in any real danger, but very frustrated by the conflicting stories I’d gotten from the lady on the phone1 and the vet2.

Sure enough, the little metal piece made an appearance around noon the next day and the pup was no worse for wear. :)

This was by far the most excitement our pup had put us through. I guess it was an expensive lesson for the new dog parents (it was certainly frustrating), but all’s well that ends well – right?

Maybe the excitement is just beginning. Today, while taking the pup on a walk as it was starting to snow, she decided to take her first swim in a little pond in a nearby development. :roll:

  1. Who told me how I needed to bring in the puppy right away.
  2. Who clearly didn’t think there was any real danger, and was inclined from the beginning to just let it pass.