Tashi is a wee under ten pound shih tzu that came into BCFS’s foster care program with multiple issues. The first priority was her broken jaw. We needed to fix this, so she could eat. She was barely six pounds.
Aunt Rachel did the surgery to remove her rotted teeth and fix the jaw. It took weeks for Tashi to recover, but finally she was able to eat on her own. She went from six pounds to nine healthy pounds in three months.
Teeth fixed, we moved on to the spay. Her uterus was well used, but no signs of tumours or cancer.
Another few weeks for Tashi to recover…
Now, we moved onto the tumour in her ear. Tashi had reoccurring stinky ear infections and Aunt Rachel visualized a tumour in the ear canal. We began discussing removal.
Aunt Rachel suggested a vet clinic in Buffalo, NY that had a scope. She’d never dealt with this clinic, but it was worth a consultation. (For sensitive readers: this post includes veterinary surgical images below.)
We made an appointment and I hustled into the clinic eight minutes late. I had struggled through the 90 minute drive that included crossing the Peace Bridge and the traffic on Transit Road.
I arrived frazzled.
The doctor of veterinary medicine, the specialist, the man in charge looked at me from behind the desk and frowned. “No” he said, “I can’t see you now! You had fifteen minutes and eight minutes are gone. I can’t see you now.”
My eyes must have popped out of my head with disappointment and shock. “Well, I could see you at 5 o’clock if you want to wait two hours and come back.” was his response.
He turned on his heel and left me staring after him in shock. I left the clinic and as I drove around the unfamiliar area I set my disappointment aside, took responsibility for being late and kept asking myself the same question: “what decision will help Tashi?”
I calmed myself with an herbal tea and let my mind wander. If this vet was the key to Tashi’s health I shouldn’t let my personal feelings interfere with the medical process.
After a good conversation with Brent, I decided to wait the two hours and go back to speak with the “surgical specialist”.
I returned to the clinic promptly at 5 o’clock. The staff showed me to an exam room and told me Dr. V would be in shortly.
Was it ironic that he kept me waiting for exactly 8 minutes?
He walked in and shook my hand with a watery shake. Dr. V focused on Tashi’s broken jaw rather than the ear tumour.
He asked if Tashi’s fractured jaw was from trauma and rotting teeth. I said we really didn’t know. He said it was likely rotting teeth… I didn’t share that Rachel suspected it was trauma. What did this have to do with her ear anyway?
When he finally got around to talking about the ear tumour he advised me of this, his treatment plan:
- take a biopsy and see if the tumour was malignant or benign. $1000
- If it was benign do a vertical ablation on the ear. Slice the ear open on either side and remove the entire ear canal. $2500 This is a very invasive procedure and BCFS was not planning on putting a senior dog through this. We were looking for a procedure that would improve her quality of life.
- If the tumour was malignant – do nothing. $0
Perhaps I’m a little simple, but our goal is to remove the obstruction in hopes of decreasing the infections and making Tashi more comfortable. I’m not a vet.
I’m just a girl looking to help a dog.
Dr. V advised me the appointment was over and he would write up an estimate to take a biopsy of the tumour. Nothing more. He wouldn’t even consider removing the tumour without first doing pathology on the tumour. I appreciated his rigorous devotion to procedure, but this was a 12 year, old under ten pound shih tzu, who wouldn’t fair well with an ear ablation – could he please listen?
I returned to Dr. Rachel and gave her the run down of the appointment. At one point Dr. V suggested my “regular vet” just go in with a pair of alligator clamps and pull a piece off as a biopsy – he said “its a simple procedure. Your vet should be able to do it”
Aunt Rachel said she would if she could, but she didn’t have the equipment, the scope. If she went in with a pair of forceps blindly and pulled off a piece she was afraid it would start bleeding and she couldn’t stop it without the scope.
I asked Dr. Rachel for other ideas and she said Morgan Animal Hospital has a scope. I began making calls to Morgan Animal Hospital.
We had an appointment within a week for an ear scope. When I met with Dr. Todd Morgan he agreed that an attempt to remove the tumour – as long as we understood it might grow back – would be the best avenue to Tashi.
I left Tashi with Dr. Todd Morgan for the day and when he called at noon he told me the tumour looked like a cauliflower and was only attached by a stem.
He was able to remove the tumour with the scope. The tumour was blocking Tashi’s entire ear canal, so the removal should make her feel better immediately.
We are so happy that we’ve improved Tashi’s life for however long she’s with us. The obstruction is gone and any residual infection will finally heal.
We can’t thank Dr. Morgan enough for his skill with his special scope. As I walked out with Tashi under my arm I asked Dr. Todd Morgan if we could come to him in the future if we had other cases that would need his magic scope.
He said “I’m the only vet in the area with a scope, so I guess we’re stuck with each other.” he has a charming smile.
I smile, kissed Tashi’s head and walked out.
A few days later we got word that it was a benign tumour and there were no anticipated troubles.
The bottom line: continue to make the best decision for your dog, even in the face of adversity.
Every day brings an opportunity to learn. I’ve learned that BCFS is incredibly grateful to have Dr. Rachel and all the staff at Thorold Veterinary Hospital helping BCFS help animals.
It probably time to send them a big basket of chocolate for Christmas.