in Checking In, Travels

Needle Dog

Rocket's needle

We’ve been spending the Thanksgiving weekend at Kelly’s parents’ home in Virginia. Yesterday, the kids were helping string popcorn in the kitchen. Rocket took advantage of an opportunity to eat a piece of popcorn and swallowed the needle that was threaded through it. Everyone watched helplessly as the thread disappeared down our dumb dog’s throat.

We loaded him up in the car and headed to the Swansons’ vet in Haymarket. After Rocket got an x-ray, we were told that there were two options to remove the needle: surgery or an endoscopy. Estimated cost was $3000. Ouch! We couldn’t get the endoscopy done there; it could only be done in Leesburg at The LifeCenter. So, I loaded the dog in the car, said goodbye to Kelly and Linda, and drove 30 miles to Leesburg.

The vet there gave me positive news. There was a good chance the needle would pass without surgery. If we chose to proceed with an endoscopy, it might run from $1200 to $1800. After talking it over with Kelly we decided to try the endoscopy.

It was in the waiting room there that our home alarm system called and told us of the break-in attempt. I scrambled to call our neighbors while at the same time trying to remember all that the vet techs were telling me. After paying for the endoscopy, I headed back to the Swanson’s house to wait. I was told it would be 6 to 12 hours before Rocket would be ready to come home.

At 5 PM I called the vet to check in. The internist was not yet there, so Rocket was waiting around. At 6 PM the vet called back and said that a new x-ray showed the needle had already progressed halfway through Rocket’s small intestine. There was no point in doing an endoscopy at that time, so I headed back to Leesburg to pick him up. Final bill: $750 for two sets of x-rays and a few, ultimately unneeded lab tests.

My guess is that the thread still attached to the needle is helping to guide it blunt-end first through Rocket’s digestive system, minimizing damage. He’s still not produced it yet after multiple chances today but I expect we’ll soon see it.

At any rate, Rocket has been as energetic (and bullheaded) as usual. This is just one more chapter to the legend of the Iron Stomach Bonehead, otherwise known as Needle Dog.

Update 28 Nov: Needle recovered!