Yesterday was one of those days most dog owners try to avoid. Generally speaking Pearl is a really healthy dog and we have spent very little in the way of vet bills. Besides eating something that resembled a peach pit just a few days after we got her and having to decide to let nature takes its course or go in to remove the blockage, Pearl has been a pretty easy keeper (we decided to let nature take its course and it did).
But, then three days ago Pearl and Ross were playing frisbee out in the pasture and in mid toss, Pearl suddenly stopped chasing the frisbee and started shaking her head. She let the frisbee drop to the ground, something she never lets happen, and went on scratching at her head. Initially Ross thought a bee had stung her in the ear or something had flown inside it. Eventually, Pearl went and fetched the frisbee and their game continued.
However, Pearl never really stopped shaking her head. Now and then she would give it a quick shake and then continue what she was doing. Then after a few hours she started walking with a slight left leaning tilt in her head. After three days and a trip to the lake to see if a few dunks wouldn’t flush it out later I decided this probably wasn’t going to fix itself on its own.
Pearl is a blue heeler, or Australian Cattle Dog, and one of her best features is her BIG, brown and black ears. They are so big that they never really stood all the way up so the tips fold down which is an adorable flaw. Because the majority of her is a light blue color, people often comment that it looks like her ears were taken from a different dog. In addition to being adorable, their sheer size gives her the ability to hear the goats getting into the garden from inside the house where she dashes from her post and chases them back into their pasture. But, now that she had this pain in her ear she held her ears down and her head low. It was a sad sight.
So Ross loaded Pearl up and headed to the vet. After looking into her ear, the vet told Ross that he thought he could see something and it did look a little red on the inside but that in order to get a good look he would have to sedate her. This of course meant the difference between a $50 vet bill and a $250 vet bill. And so, Ross and I had to make the choice. Do we try to wait this out and let nature take its course, opening the opportunity for infection and possible long term hearing loss, or do we bite the bullet and hand over $250 with no guarantee that he will find anything. In the end we decided that whatever it was that was bugging her was probably not coming out on its own since it hadn’t already and that she has been a really healthy, low maintenance dog so we would bite the bullet. We crossed our fingers, gave permission to sedate her and hoped that they would find something.
In the end it took three people, a long pair of pliers and a lot of digging, which confirmed our thought that it wouldn’t come out on its own, to finally pull out a large, pointy grass seed pod. The vet put the $250 seed pod in a bag for us and we loaded a very drugged Pearl into the truck and took her home to get some rest. I have to admit watching her try to walk up the stairs all drugged and wobbly was our entertainment for the night and almost worth the $250 we spent!
Today, she is doing great! She is holding her head level again, her ears are alert and she slept off the drugs and was ready to chase the goats this morning during morning chores!