The Wagging Tail that Saved Angel’s Life

The Wagging Tail
that Saved Angel’s Life

By Dr. Ed Mapes
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
McKinney, Tx

My surgery technician mentioned that a lady had been crying in the reception area while she dropped her Shih Tzu off that morning. Mrs. Bassett wanted us to put her dog to sleep because of persistent bloody urine that hadn’t responded to multiple treatments at another hospital. Inside my surgery mask and gown, I cringed at the prospect of doing the euthanasia – a task I deem as the most difficult in Veterinary medicine.

Three surgeries later, there she was – before me on the treatment room table. The leg had been shaved and prepped, and the syringe containing euthanasia solution was in my hand. I steeled myself for the unpleasant task, grasped her paw, and began to insert the needle into her cephalic vein – and then I noticed her tail as it wagged happily; and how those big, friendly eyes looked up into mine. Having lost the will to perform the task, I put the needle down and began a thorough examination of Angel.

Beginning at the face and working my way back, I could find no indication of long-standing disease. Angel appeared to be a healthy seven-year old dog that should have a lot of years ahead of her. My hands grasped and assessed the kidneys – both seemed normal. Now for the urinary bladder – where blood could be coming from – and YES! Could it be? I thought I could feel several small, but unmistakable, masses within the thickened walls – bladder stones! There will be no euthanasia today!

After confirming what I suspected with x-rays, I called Mrs. Bassett and explained that I didn’t have the heart to put Angle to sleep, but thought I could explain the bloody urine. A relatively easy surgical procedure – to remove the stones from the urinary bladder – should put an end to the problem.
She tried to speak, but could not. She sobbed in low tones for a few seconds and then squeaked, “Oh doctor, this is a miracle. I was just calling your office to ask that you don’t do it!” “I didn’t have the heart either.”

“I can move some appointments around and get Angel done this afternoon”, I said. “Can you be here around 5:30?”

“Oh yes, yes!” she replied through more sobs – this time I could tell it was from happiness.

At surgery, we found eight small bladder stones that had caused chronic inflammation and low grade infection of Angel’s bladder; the cause of her persistent problem. She recovered from the operation quickly, and we brushed her long hair for release from the hospital.

Mrs. Bassett and husband Bill, with three children and her Mother, all arrived at the appointed hour. They thrust open the car doors and ran to the hospital entrance; my whole staff was there to greet them. Word spread to all of the other clients in the waiting room, and everyone applauded and/or cried when Angel was led out – prancing on her leash and happy to go home.

I tried to explain the surgical after-care, but I knew that nobody heard me. They were just happy to see their Angel. And that life-saving tail? It still wagged happily.

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