Hola! It’s Cocoa, repawting for the Barking Bugle. As you know I am a very intelligent dog and I can now also list life saving to my achievements. Yes, that’s right. During the summer I saved Luca’s life and I did it with my usual pernash and sense of style!
We had travelled down to a show in Surrey and Mum and Dad were busy setting up the tent and our pop up shop. Once done, Mum fed Luca and me with our usual food and everything was good. Well it was good until Luca starting pacing, whining and trying to be sick but nothing was coming up. I must admit this was very unlike Luca; he doesn’t normally do this. He then said that he was in pain as his stomach hurt – a lot. Mum was worried and went and got Dad. Dad took one look at Luca and could see that his stomach had swollen and uttered the fatal words, ‘I think he’s got bloat’.
Now even I know that bloat is a very serious issue with Luca. Spinones are prone to it, probably because of the size of the stomach – it’s hoomungus! It’s basically where the stomach fills with too much gas, making the stomach balloon. If the additional gas can’t be passed properly the stomach can then twist. If it twists the situation rapidly changes from serious to catastrophic because the twist can obliterate the gastric blood supply which makes the dog’s stomach wall fail, which in turn can lead to perforation and fatal peritonitis. If bloats occur, help is possible but time is always of the essence, so we needed to get Luca to a vet’s as quickly as possible, ideally between 30 to 45 minutes.
But what to do? We were in the middle of a field in Surrey, an area that we didn’t know and it was getting late. Mum rushed off to see if she could find a vet on site. It was an agriculture show after all, but because it was late the vet had left for the day. So mum ran around for bit, doing her headless chicken act. In the meantime Dad had managed to get Luca in the van, then I jumped in, he then drove over to the show office and got a vet’s telephone number from there. When Mum came sprinting back he was on the phone to the vet, explaining the situation and getting the address. Mum jumped in and then we were off.
But it wasn’t a very pleasant journey – Luca was sprawled over the two seats which left no room for me or for mum. I decided to sit on Luca as I am fairly lightweight and he didn’t seem to mind. Mum perched on the end of the seat, her bum only slightly touching the upholstery. She also had to hang onto to the sat nav – there was a loose connection and it wouldn’t charge properly unless mum rammed it into the cigarette holder and kept her hand on the wires. So one hand was hanging onto that and her other hand was gripping the seat tightly to hang on. It was a bumpy ride for sure trying to follow the directions – I am sure we went round the same roundabout twice! Dad was very calm but Mum was being Mum and had a slight manic twinge to her voice as she shouted out the directions, until finally Dad said that he could see the directions on the screen of the sat nav and there wasn’t any reason for her to shout them out. As I said it was a bumpy ride! Mrs Sat Nav said that the vet’s was 25 minutes away, so every wrong turn and going round every roundabout twice mattered. While all this was going on Luca just lay there; he wasn’t trying to be sick anymore and he wasn’t whimpering, but I could tell he was uncomfortable. I too was uncomfortable, so I wriggled a bit to try and make myself a little more comfy on top of Luca. As I said, he didn’t seem to mind.
32 minutes later we found the vet’s and Dad parked on the road. Mum and I decided to wait in the van as it was easier for Dad to take Luca into the vet’s on his own. We manhandled Luca out of the van. Dad wondered if Luca’s stomach had gone down a little but wasn’t sure. They then walked into the vet’s. Mum and I sat and waited. And waited. And then we waited some more. We didn’t say much to each other; I could tell that mum was really worried. Mum did say though I was being very good, very quiet. I wasn’t barking at the passing pedestrians as I sometimes would. She said that I must be worried too and I was. Second to my Dad, Luca was my world, we did everything together. If the worst happened, I don’t know how I would cope.
Photo: Me waiting in the car for news!
Then all of a sudden the door handle on the van turned and they were back. Luca had a sheepish grin on his face and Dad just looked relieved. ‘Well?’ Mum asked. ‘Is he OK?’ ‘Yes,’ Dad said. ‘The stomach had swollen but luckily it hadn’t twisted. The gas must have been naturally released and the stomach went down on it’s own accord’. ‘Well, how could that have happened?’ Mum asked. Dad looked at me. ‘Cocoa sat on him for the journey, didn’t she?’ Then mum looked at me, disbelief showing on her face. ‘You think by Cocoa siting on him, her weight helped Luca to pass the gas’? Dad nodded. ‘That’s the only explanation that I and the vet can think of’.
As I said I am a very intelligent dog and I just knew with my canine instinct that by sitting on Luca that it would save his life – gosh I’m good! I am also pleased to report that Luca is still alive and kicking and has no lasting effects from his worrying time. We have also all learnt from that awful experience as follows:
A van is not big big enough for all of us.
Buy a new cable for the sat nav.
Don’t let mum do her headless chicken act – it doesn’t really help.
Dad does remain calm in a crisis.
Always have a Spanish Water Dog to hand in a crisis – they are very intelligent and can help!
However, joking aside, you can help prevent bloat by just doing these simple things:-
Make sure you don’t gobble your food really quickly. Luca eats from a kiddies’ bowl – sorry I mean a slo bowl – it’s a food bowl but has a maze in the middle of it. Luca has to navigate the maze with his nose and mouth, making sure he can’t take large mouthfuls of food in one go, thereby slowing his eating down.
Don’t guzzle loads of water just before eating or just after.
Don’t exercise at least 30 minutes before or after food.
As I said, simple things, but it can help to save lives.
Woofs – Cocoa repawting for The Barking Bugle and Tuffdogs Stuff Ltd