Athol Daily News – Sportsman’s Corner: Foreign Object III

There was something familiar about what was going on with my young French Brittany, Laney. When she threw up all her dinner last Thursday, my suspicions were aroused. When the same thing happened on Friday morning, the clues started to fit together. The chewed up tennis ball was Exhibit A and that meant there was a good chance she had a foreign object in her digestive tract again that wasn’t coming out of either end.

This was not Laney’s “first rodeo.” At six months, she ate a 40-foot parachute cord, without a brass clip. It had a happy ending when a chance encounter with Pat Perry of the Hedgerow Hunt Club suggested using mineral oil. After a catch in the evening, the rope was there, as if folded, in its enclosure in the morning. His penchant for chewing and swallowing didn’t stop there and a sock belonging to my wife got stuck a few months later and required surgery to remove.

A few years later, the scenario repeated itself and she again went under the knife. Both times the staff at Adam’s Animal Hospital did an exemplary job and Laney made a full recovery. This healing, of course, meant wearing the famous “cone of shame” that dogs wear to avoid licking the incision and causing infection. This means close supervision to limit the dog’s movement so as not to tear the stitches, both internal and external. This means a gentle diet and close monitoring of wounds and making sure regular bowel movements demonstrate that the plumbing is back in action. This means sleeping with one eye and both ears open while the dog moving around the kennel at night makes a loud noise. So this lucky pet owner is going through one hell of a month to make sure this bird dog will be okay come fall.

So now the scene was repeating again for the third time. And the timing couldn’t have been worse. On a Saturday morning before a long weekend, I couldn’t wait until Tuesday for Adams’ doctors to perform the procedure. There are emergency veterinary hospitals and they provide services at night and on weekends. Although Laney still shows no signs of discomfort, the decision was to call South Deerfield Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital. They took the information and said they would call when a doctor could see Laney. This call came in at 2pm and we headed to South Deerfield.

Post-COVID vet visits are now different as staff come to the car. There was a bit of a wait as there were six cars ahead of us. Laney walked in and it started with a six hour wait. Tests were performed, x-rays were taken and possibly read, and a scan was also performed. The conclusion was that there was an object that was not in danger of leaving on its own. Next comes consultation on options and a cost estimate. Remember, these are after-hours and “specialty” services. The estimate was more than expected and my mind was spinning as I considered the options. Boston’s Angel Mercy Hospital and other facilities in the state were considered. My initial decision was to take Laney home and research options that might be more reasonable. After calling a former student who has been a practicing vet for some time for advice on options and relative costs, and speaking with my wife and daughter Jen, the decision was to have the surgery done that night. there in South Deerfield. After all, there was already a significant investment of time and money in Laney, and we would find the money somewhere. And truth be told, at 5 years old, Laney has become a very good bird dog and is a very interesting member of the family, to say the least.

The story has a happy ending. An early morning text message said the operation had gone well and a call at noon on Sunday informed me that she was ready to go home. She now lives by eating canned dog food, has not one but three different cones, and eliminates as well as ever. Yeah! Now if I can only survive his recovery!

Ice fishing

Sunday was also a big day of ice fishing. There was a little fishing tournament that my brother Chris and his son Jared joined to compete in the cold. We caught some nice fish including a big crappie, a big yellow perch and a nice largemouth bass but we didn’t win anything. Never mind!

This was followed by a gathering of Jen’s friend and their children at the pond and the new Eskimo Ice Fishing Shelter was a huge hit. It’s insulated and is remarkably warm, even without using the new heater. With the heater on, it’s absolutely fried. The test team of Grady and Addie Boucher, Jaylen Softic and Noelle Haigh gave a resounding boost! Now, if I can only step away from my duties as a nurse!

Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written Sportsman’s Corner since 1984 and has been a counselor for the Mahar Fish’N Game Club, counselor and director of the Massachusetts Conservation Camp, was a Massachusetts Hunter Education Instructor for over 40 years, and is a guide to licensed hunter in New York. . He can be reached at

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