March 17, 6:16 p.m. “Can you help
us? Our vet says Susie needs x-rays and probably surgery
for something that she swallowed and may be stuck inside.
We’re on a fixed income and can’t afford what this might
cost. Our vet said if she is not x-rayed and maybe operated
on she will die.” -
This desperate plea for help came into GRRI’s email account
Tuesday evening. It was immediately forwarded to the GRRI
Board of Directors. Within hours of receipt, an action plan
was decided upon and Susie’s adopters were called; a message
was left on their answering machine that “yes, we could
They were first offered the option of keeping Susie and
obtaining an emergency line of credit via a program called
CareCredit ®. (www.carecredit.com)
CareCredit is a convenient, low minimum monthly payment
program to help clients afford the best treatment
recommendations for their pets. The application process is
quick and easy. You’ll instantly learn if you’re approved.
It can be done right from the participating veterinarian’s
office and the money is available immediately. This was
critical in Susie’s case. There were several emergency
veterinary hospitals that accept CareCredit within driving
distance from Susie’s home.
A follow-up call by a Board member the following morning
determined that her family could not afford treatment. They
also hadn’t taken her to be examined by their veterinarian.
Susie was vomiting, had not passed any stool in four days
and was lethargic. Our Board member asked them to surrender
her back to GRRI so that we could get her to one of our
rescue friendly veterinarians ASAP. They refused, saying
they had to think about it.
Hours passed and they continued to delay a decision. They
were attempting to feed Susie despite our admonitions not
to. Feeding a dog with a suspected blockage is extremely
dangerous. GRRI’s attorney recommended having them bring
Susie to an emergency hospital with the understanding that
GRRI would pay for the emergency treatment and they in turn
would make a donation back to GRRI. (A 501(C)(3)
organization cannot pay for private veterinary expenses.)
At this point saving Susie’s life was the main priority.
This is not a practice that GRRI normally offers. The
adopter again refused to take her to the emergency hospital
that was recommended.
GRRI’s President placed a call to them and gave them two
options: take Susie to the vet we recommend with the
understanding that GRRI will pay the bill, or surrender her
to us so she doesn’t die. At 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon,
March 18, 2-year-old Susie came back into rescue.
A GRRI Board member was visiting with her mom, waiting for
word to go get her. She went to Susie’s home and her family
tearfully handed her the signed intake paperwork. Susie was
now officially ours. “I have her” was relayed across cell
phones, and another GRRI Board member and her husband jumped
into their car and drove to a designated meeting area so
they could get her and bring her to their rescue friendly
vet. Dr. Joseph Zuckerman of Village Animal Clinic in
Ardsley, NY had been notified of our emergency and was on
alert, waiting to help.
Upon arrival they were ushered into a treatment room and a
medical history was taken. Susie was extremely stressed at
this point and didn’t want anyone to come near her. Dr.
Zuckerman took her leash, walked her around, and then sat
next to her. He waited patiently while Susie got used to
his presence. Then she allowed him to perform a physical
examination. Because of her stress level she was given a
mild sedative before the radiographs were done. The films
revealed that there was a suspicious area in her small
intestine “larger than the width of a vertebrae”. This is
always suspect so the approval was given to perform an
exploratory surgery. “Do you want to wait 30 minutes to
see what it is?” Dr Zuckerman asked. “Sure” was the reply.
About 20 minutes into the surgery a vet tech came out and
said there was a really large foreign body obstruction (FBO),
the worst Dr. Zuckerman had ever seen. It was really messy;
it was wrapped around the coils of her small intestine. A
call went out to have our volunteers start sending positive
thoughts and prayers for her survival. A plastic bag was
brought out with a large mass inside of it. We were
told it could be a man’s sock. There were two pieces, each
about 9-inches in length, 1-inch in diameter.
Again a tech came out…there was some kind of string or rope
in there, like hemp, and 1-1/2 feet of her small intestine
was shirred around it like a curtain would be on a curtain
rod. Putrid black fluid leaked from her blocked intestine.
We later found out that Susie had ingested a skein of
Two hours after surgery began, at 8 p.m., Dr. Zuckerman came
out. He said she was resting and he and the tech would stay
with her until she awoke; then he’d give her some morphine.
He had to make a large incision down the center of her
stomach. Then an incision was made in the center of the
small intestine where the blockage was; he cut the rope-like
mass in half, then made another incision to one side so
that he could remove half of the sock/rope mass’ he did the
same on the other side and extracted the other half. It
would have been helpful to know what she had eaten so he
could determine if he had successfully removed it all but
that information wasn’t available. We had to hope that
he’d gotten it all. The following morning Susie was very
combative and didn’t want anyone coming near her. She was
vomiting a black tar-like fluid and swampy smelling bile.
She looked terrible. She was receiving IV fluids and
antibiotics. She couldn’t have any food or water until bowel
sounds could be heard, indicating her intestines were
functioning properly. Normally this occurs within 24-48
Our GRRI volunteers cooked up some boiled chicken and sweet
potatoes and pureed it in a Cuisinart so it would be easy
for her to eat. Probiotics were purchased to help restore
the “healthy’ bacteria in her intestinal tract. They were
allowed to visit her later that afternoon and both were
shocked by her appearance. This was clearly a very sick
dog. Dr. Zuckerman said she wasn’t doing as well as he’d
hoped, but then she’d been through an awful lot the past
couple of days. She didn’t let them touch her either so they
quietly sat on the floor with her until she fell asleep.
On day two, fearing the worst, we received a new update.
“She’s showing some spunk and we hear faint bowel sounds.
She’s letting one of the techs examine her. Her temp is
normal, the incision looks clean.”
She was given a small amount of water. If she kept it down
she could have an Italian meatball sized portion of the
chicken mixture. Again our volunteers went to visit her and
received a very pleasant surprise. Susie remembered them
and actually wagged her tail a bit. She went outside for a
walk and then came into a treatment room for a visit. Again,
patiently waiting for her to accept them, they sat on the
floor with her. Soon she came over to be petted. She ended
up with a full body massage which she loved. She rolled on
her side so they could see her incision. Then it was time
to feed her. Dr. Zuckerman brought in a small amount of
food which had been warmed in the microwave. She was
ecstatic…FOOD! She gobbled it down and then looked around
for more. “If you keep that down, then you can have some
more every hour” she was told. Life was looking better and
The 3-5 day period following any kind of intestinal surgery
is always the most critical. The body needs protein to
heal. If a dog’s blood proteins are low, then it increases
the risk at the surgical site that the sutures can break
down, spilling the infection into the stomach membranes.
This spillage results in a serious condition called
Susie was discharged from the hospital three days after her
surgery. She was moved to a foster home where she continued
to receive the love and pampering that she needed. During her
stay in her foster home we discovered that Susie was
terribly unsocialized and fearful of people, particularly
men. We learned she had been disciplined with a newspaper.
Her emotional healing would certainly take longer than her
physical one. Her foster home decided to adopt her. They
are committed to helping heal her emotional trauma. She is
under the care of a homeopathic vet and her prognosis is
excellent. She’s got a long road ahead of her but it will
be one of joy, happiness and love. She’s currently living
in Westchester County in her forever home with other rescued Goldens and several rescued cats. Susie is very happy and
It’s for dogs like Susie that we do what we do. We saved a
dog’s life on Wednesday, March 18th. The love
and thankfulness shining out of Susie’s eyes as she gazed at
our volunteers spoke volumes.
Heartfelt thanks to all of the volunteers who helped in this
rescue; to our GRRI Board of Directors; to our GRRI
Attorney; to our volunteers on stand-by to help with the
intake and transport; to the volunteers who have been
visiting with her in the hospital, and most of all, to our
rescue-friendly veterinary clinic, Village Animal Clinic,
and Dr. Joseph Zuckerman and staff.
Could something like this have been
Goldens are retrievers; through instinct, they love to carry
objects around in their mouths. They’re also notorious for
ingesting socks, underwear, pantyhose, plush toys, etc. If
you know you have one of those Goldens who does more than
carry something around in their mouth, then it’s critically
important to make sure that your home is as safe as it can
be so your dog doesn’t experience what Susie did.
Additionally, pet insurance might have allowed Susie’s
former adopters to provide the care that she so desperately
needed. Pet insurance companies like VPI Pet Insurance
www.petinsurance.com offer several different plans
tailored to individual needs. There is an economical plan to
cover surgeries and hospitalization; a superior plan to
cover accidental illnesses, emergencies and illnesses,
including cancer. Add-on riders include pet wellness
routine care and cancer. It can be financed in monthly
installments or in one annual lump sum.
None of us ever want to be put in the position where we have
to look into the eyes of our beloved friends and say I love
you so much but I can’t afford to help you.
Thankfully GRRI didn’t have to either.
To make a
donation to help offset the cost of Susie’s medical bill,
donations may be made via Paypal or a check.
to GRRI-NJ via check:
mail your check or money order, payable to GRRI-NJ, to:
P.O. Box 74
Pleasantville, NY 10570-0074
Attn: Susie Medical Fund
to GRRI-NJ via credit card in increments of $10:
Thank you to Dr. Joseph
Zuckerman for reviewing this article.
GRRI does not endorse
any of the companies referenced in this article