Veterinarian: Sure. They can. Let’s check the throat.
(The vet is down on the floor with the dog. I’m impressed that the vet is down on the floor with the dog. I should probably warn him that the dog is due for one her hacking/gagging/retching fits. He might get hit with spew if he’s not careful. But before I can say a thing, the vet has stuck his finger down the bull dog’s throat to feel for any foreign objects. Simone, the bull dog is surprised and she gags deeply, wide-eyed. The vet swiftly gets out of the direct line of fire in case any stomach contents are projected. Nothing comes up, but a loud and aggressive hacking fit ensues. Good. I wanted the doctor to witness this for himself. Give it all you got, Simone. Show him.)
Cassie: Here we go. See? This….this is what keeps happening.
Vet: She’s trying to bring up phlegm.
Cassie: Hmmm. Nice.
Vet: I know.
Cassie: (From my purse, I pull two small chewed up pieces of a kid’s toy) See, I found these on the deck…told the kids a hundred times…do you think she’s swallowed something like this and it’s lodged somewhere? She’s trying to bring it up?
Vet: (He takes the pieces and examines them for a moment) Interesting. Were these pieces in her stool or vomit?
Cassie: What?!! Awwww! Gross! No! I just found them on the deck when all this started happening. But I think it’s the work of the puppy because Simone doesn’t really chew and eat toys so much anymore.
Vet: She’s far too sophisticated for that.
Cassie: Huh? Yea. Right. (I go on with my story.) Also, she could have climbed down to the mess of a forest/weed pile/used-to-be-a lawn below the deck. We’re just renting the house so we don’t have anything to do with the yard, ya know what I mean?. We don’t let the dogs go down there, to that mess of weeds, but maybe Simone got down there and she ate some sort of poisonous vegetation. Do you think that’s it? She’s poisoned herself by eating something toxic and now she can’t breathe? Stupid dog! We usually barricade the stairs but there was a wind storm a couple of nights ago and the board that my husband put up to block the stairs blew over and—
Vet: (in a very calm voice) —I think we might be grasping at straws here. I think the best route to take, at this point, is to proceed with a series of x-rays…to check everything out.
Cassie: Is that going to cost like a thousand bucks?
Vet: (slight chuckle) No. More like one hundred eighty…two hundred tops.
Cassie: Good. My husband gets a little worked up about all the bull dog bills.
Vet: Yep. Well, bull dogs can be expensive. She’s quite adorable, though….this bull dog, Simone. (Pause while he gives her a love rub under the chin) We’ll have a better picture of what’s going on inside….literally….if I do the x-rays. Then we’ll know for sure. Okay?
Cassie: Yes. Yes. Good idea. Let’s do that. Take the x-rays. See if that stupid toy is lodged in her intestines.
(The vet leads the dog out of the examination room. The bull dog leaves willingly, thinking, I’m sure, that her prospects for breathing freely might improve with an immediate change of venue. Also, the vet has been very nice to her despite sticking his finger down her throat.)
Twenty minutes later, after the x-rays have been taken and analyzed, and yet another dog patient has been seen and administered to, the vet comes out to the waiting room to chat with me.
Cassie: What’d ya see?
Vet: No foreign objects.
Cassie: Really? I can’t believe that. It’s not a piece of stupid toy that’s causing the trouble?
Vet: No. But I saw quite the pulmonary/lung situation in the chest x-rays. It’s definitely what’s giving her so much trouble with the breathing.
Cassie: What? Like asthma or pneumonia or something?
Vet: Exactly right. I’m going to give Simone an injection of antibiotics and then I’ll send you home with some oral antibiotics so we can stay ahead of this thing.
Cassie: Is this going to be a chronic issue…like real asthma? Cuz, you know, bull dogs and their breathing issues. Oh man, my husband’s going to have a cow. Is it all the pollen on the deck? We’ll have to hose that off every day now.
Vet: I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s chronic. I don’t think it’s the pollen. Let’s hope not, anyway. I’d like to see her in a week to check her breathing again. Okay?
(The doctor takes Simone — who’s been sprawled out on the waiting room floor, trying to breathe — through to the injection room. Again, Simone leaves me without any trouble since she’s still hoping to find some easy breathing elsewhere. Minutes later, the bull dog’s back out, and after I pay, we head out to the parking lot. There, my asthmatic dog takes yet another try at hacking up her lungs. Then, together, we get into the car and head home.)