Legal Alien: A Scotsman in Montreal

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This post comes from Jane, an old room-mate, and is about how Daisy, her dog, almost died at the weekend, and how to better prepare yourself in case of pet emergencies.

She (Daisy) choked on a ball that was too small for her. She at first was trying to throw it up, looking very uncomfortable, and we observed her while she did so. The vet said if she tried for an hour and it didn't work, to bring her in, but if she swallowed it, she would need a laxative to make it pass. If it was rubber it would be partially digested. If it didn't pass, they'd need to operate. We did not check for the obstruction soon enough, but when we did, we could see the ball. The vet said to bring her in, so Dave called a taxi (nimrod dispatcher asked for the address THREE times and said "are you sure it's an emergency?"), but it was beginning to cut off her air. I tried to pull the ball out with a spoon (wooden or sturdy plastic rather than metal. An alternate implement to a spoon, if I had it, would have been tongs. But you need to keep the dog still, mouth wide open, and use them slowly and carefully) but Daisy fought that attempt. What I also should have tried is to rotate the ball so the hole in it was visible, stick my finger in the hole, and pull. I blew into her nose a few times to keep the air moving if she was having trouble. She started passing out, and was lying on her side when Dave came to her rescue. While I held her mouth open, Dave pushed upwards on her throat to dislodge the ball. It popped out, covered in mucus. Dave blew into her nose again, and she revived. I called the vet back and he said that although her throat and esophagus had been distressed, all she needed now was lots of rest.

We had both been pretty panicked. If I had to do this again, I would remember
1) to check for the obstruction immediately,
2) that temporary pain to her (e.g. forcing her mouth open to use the spoon or squeezing her throat) is better than dying, and
3) to lie her down and straddle her to keep her immobile (which is what I needed Dave for) while trying to dislodge the ball.

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What we needed to have on hand were telephone numbers to the nearest vet, the taxi, and the neighbours. I would recommend everybody do this now, including family doctor and regular vet, the nearest CLSC and local police precinct, on a bright sheet of paper taped to the fridge. Dave broke down about looking up phone numbers, it was beyond him at that stage.

Later on when Dave sent the taxi away, the guy was enough of a selfish prick to say he wouldn't take the dog anyway. Taxi drivers in Montreal think they have more power than they ought to. Never trust a taxi driver. If ever a driver refuses to transport you in an emergency situation, especially in an emergency such as an animal dying, then absolutely you insist. The first thing you do as soon as any doubt is cast --you should do this every time you take a cab anyway, in case you forget something in the cab (and report on the driver if they misbehave)-- is get their name and card number on the inside left, by their head, and the cab number. File a lawsuit against both the cabbie and the cab company for damages, even if the animal survives. You will win. You will especially win if the animal dies. There is a Good Samaritan law in Quebec that essentially makes it illegal to abandon a person in distress--a person with a choking, dying pet is in distress! A cabbies' concern about a dander-free vehicle is trivial in comparison to a medical emergency. I would have paid a premium for the fastest two-stoplight, four-block ride in history.