Bella Emergency


Bella almost died last night.

While Kris and I were cleaning up the house, I gave Bella and Annie each a twisted pig skin treat to chew on. They came in Annie's food bag when we adopted her, so I didn't think anything of them when I gave them to the girls.

Kris had wandered out to the living room to talk to me after I had asked him a question. He looked down as Bella stood up oddly, with her back arched and her back legs stiff. Kris asked, "What's wrong with her?" I looked down at her and thought, "Oh, she just has to go to the bathroom." I hurried to the back door to open it, lest she defecate on the living room rug. When I turned back around to call to her, I noticed the panicked look on her face.

"She's not breathing!" I exclaimed, then rushed over. Kris picked up Bella by the back end and had her upside down, trying to shake the food out. I grabbed her to try a Heimlich.

Bella's belly was quite full, as she and Annie had just finished dinner before munching on their treats. They had eaten their Greenies earlier in the evening, so the pig skin treat was for variation. I couldn't get her to cough up whatever was in her throat.

I squeezed up, just below her rib cage, and each time I tried I heard a little wheeze, but I couldn't get whatever was stuck unstuck.

Kris opened her mouth and tried to get out the piece of food, but couldn't feel anything. We were in a panic at this point. After trying for what seemed like a minute (but was probably 20 seconds), I cried out that it wasn't doing any good. Kris gave me encouragement, as we heard her wheezing each time I squeezed.

I asked Kris to try, watched as he did a few. He didn't seem to be doing it right (he was more squeezing her ribs than pushing up on her diaphragm), so I pushed him out of the way and tried again. I tried to be more violent with the thrusts, but was having no more luck than I was earlier.

As some point I told Kris to take over and ran to find the vet's number. Thankfully, I had actually filed the dog's paperwork, so I knew where to look. I dashed out to call, called the vet, and received an answering machine message listing an emergency number. I hung up and called the emergency number, only to realize I had dialed the wrong number.

I called the vet again, and gave the phone to Kris, as I tried more Heimlich maneuvers on Bella. Her back was still arched, her back legs still stiff, and she was drooling a bit. The line was busy, so Kris called again, cursing the whole time. Eventually the message played, he called the emergency vet number and shouted, "My dog is choking!" when the vet answered. After maybe 3 sentences of conversation, Kris had the vet address and hung up.

During the call, the Heimlichs weren't helping. All I was getting were little wheezes from Bella. When I heard Kris say, "I know where that is," I jumped up, grabbed Bella in one arm and dashed to the front door. Noticing the garbage next to the door, ready to be taken out to the trash can, I flung the door open, and ran out to the truck. It was then I realized I didn't have a shirt on (I had flung it off at one point when Kris was working on Bella), I didn't have shoes on, and I didn't have the truck keys. I whipped back, and ran back to the house, to meet Kris rushing out. "Go, go!" he called. I turned, calling, "Take the other one away from Annie!" He didn't hear me as we rushed to the car.

With Bella tucked under one arm, I opened the car door after Kris unlocked the doors from the driver's side, and dumped Bella on the seat. I took a moment to think, "Where am I supposed to sit?", before I shoved her aside and squished next to her. Kris has started the truck, and was backing out as I closed the door.

I turned to lift Bella onto my lap so that I could fasten my seatbelt. As I did, she inhaled one long raspy breath. Oh JOY!

She started breathing slowly. Very labored and raspy. I held her close to me, calling her name, petting her, and uttering soothing sounds to calm her down. She flopped on my legs for a bit, but as we reached 85, she started to sit up. She was panting after that. Kris was driving fast, getting us to Palo Alto at Oregon & Middlefield very fast.

At about 85 & 101, Bella was alert and looking around. By the vet clinic, she was subdued and panting, but more aware of her surroundings. She wiggled a bit when I carried her into the clinic. She hadn't wiggled at all when I rushed her to the car, so this made me feel good.

The vet's assistant heard us when we came in and came out to the lobby. He took Bella and disappeared for a bit, then called us into an examining room, where Bella was sitting, shaking on the examining table. We explained what had happened. He talked to us, then left to talk to the vet as we petted Bella, trying to calm her.

The vet assistant came back, and asked if we wanted X-rays done, which we answered yes. Off Bella went for X-rays. She returned about five minutes later. We heard her howling in the back, which helped calm us a bit.

As we waited, the other emergency dog came out. Turns out, Percy, a tri-colored beagle, had eaten a king-sized bar of chocolate and had vomiting induced on her. She didn't seem too happy. Apparently there was another beagle coming in after us that had also eaten a bar of chocolate. The night of beagles.

We went back into the examining room when Bella stuck her head through the door. The vet showed us the X-rays, and explained how Bella's stomach was full, her lungs were clear and there was no obstruction in the esophagus. Bella does have a narrowing then widening of her esophagus, so she may be prone to getting food stuck where it narrows back, we were also told.

Bella received an anti-inflamatory shot, we paid the bill and went home.

Annie, in the meantime, had finished her treat, finished Bella's treat, ripped open the garbage bag and eaten the remains of last night's burritos. No way we could be upset with her, as we had left the garbage out.

All in all, a horrible evening, and one I hope to never repeat.