Trout Lake, Mich.-
What can be more fun for a dog than a road trip up north with your family and the chance to run free in the woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula? For 13-year-old Eva, the frolicking came to an abrupt end when the 40-pound terrier mix impaled herself on a sharp stick that happened to be jutting out of the ground.
Timothy Risk and his partner Monique Sinnott were far from their Ferndale home when the pet emergency happened. Risk shared his rescue story:
“Eva was out for an afternoon walk with Sinnott’s father Daniel and two of his dogs. They were about a quarter mile from the house, in the woods. The dogs typically run free, chase smells and generally romp. At some point he noticed Eva was limping. He saw a small drop of blood on her front paw and thought she’d hurt it. He tried to pick her up to carry her home, but she cried out and put her mouth on his hand as a warning. Thinking she had hurt her leg or a paw, he let her limp home. When they came in the house, Monique looked her over and realized she had a piece of wood sticking out of her chest about two inches. It was impossible to know how far it had gone in and pulling it out could have been deadly.
“We carried her to the car on a board and drove her to the vet in Sault Saint Marie, 50 minutes away on snow covered roads. There, they took X-rays and then gave us the cost estimate to remove the stick surgically. I think it is interesting how vet clinics approach these topics. They kind of tiptoe around the fact that the dog is 13, lived a long happy life and we are now faced with a $500-$800 procedure. This has to be a difficult decision for many people. Our dogs are like family members; we don’t hesitate in these situations. In fact, this isn’t Eva’s first emergency vet visit. They’ve all been in for emergency visits for one injury or another. We have a special savings account we started a few years ago, when Lilley’s heart disease was diagnosed.”
Lilley is the dog they lost last year due to a long battle with heart disease. Because of their deep love for animals, they didn’t hesitate to get Eva the help she needed. They realized that the half-inch diameter stick had impaled Eva’s pectoral muscle, deflected off her sternum and stayed out of the chest cavity. The stick was 3-1/2 inches deep.
While in the care of Dr.Lynn and Dr. LaHuis at The Sault Animal Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, Eva had the stick and a pre-existing cyst removed.
Risk explained that they put Eva under general anesthesia through an IV catheter in her left arm, removed the stick without incisions, flushed the wound, and gave the poor pooch some antibiotics and pain reliever.
“The stick wound was required to stay open so it could drain while it healed from the inside out. This is to prevent infection. We initially wrapped her in an ace bandage and then put an old T-shirt on her to protect the wound,” he said. The cyst required cutting and stitches.
“While Eva was in the care of the vet, we went to a local restaurant for lunch. One and a half hours later, they called us to tell us Eva was OK, stick and cyst removed, and had already woken from the anesthesia and was walking around.
“It was snowing pretty hard during the drive home, and it was dark by this time. Eva was whining and crying as she continued to emerge from anesthesia. I was on pins and needles trying to keep the car on the dark snowy country roads. After we arrived in Trout Lake, Eva was acting pretty miserable. Eventually we fed her dinner and she quieted down. She loves meal-time and her internal clock works really well. It only took a day and a meal for Eva to forget she’d impaled herself on a stick. By the third day of recovery, she tore her T-shirt off so she could get around easier.”
Risk and Sinnott are happy to report that Eva has healed properly from this late-December accident, and is back to her old self.
“Eva is an optimist and extremely energetic. She’s the kind of dog that jumps straight up in the air when she’s happy. She loves attention and will happily crawl into your lap if you invite her. Even if she’s only known you for a few minutes. She is extremely loyal and obedient. She only barks when someone comes to the door. Otherwise she howls and whines when she is excited or hungry. Even at 13, she still acts like a puppy.”
Eva’s best friend is Bugsy. “I adopted Eva from Planned Pethood in Toledo in March of 1999. My cousin is a foster caregiver for the organization. They found Eva in a Meijer parking lot – emaciated, injured and covered with fleas. I wanted another dog to be a companion to my dog Bugsy, a nice shepherd mix I adopted from the Humane Society in Lansing. They have been together all their lives and complement each other perfectly. Bugsy was the quiet gentle boy while Eva was the exuberant, feisty girl. They always played together well. Now they are aging gracefully together.”
Eva and Bugsy also share the house with their two humans, two kitties and backyard pond with a bunch of goldfish. The humans are getting married later this year. Risk is self-employed as an architect and homebuilder, and Sinnott finished her second degree in nursing this past December and is studying for her state registration exam. She also organized a clothing drive for the Ruth Ellis center in Highland Park this past December.
FYI: When traveling with pets…
Learn where emergency vets are in the area you plan to visit
Consider an emergency vet savings account for unplanned injuries
With wounds, don’t remove sticks or other impaled objects; let the vet X-ray and do it to avoid a potentially deadly decision.