Our most recent visit to the clinic was last night. At about 10:30 last night, Kane all of a sudden looked like he swallowed a watermelon. No kidding, he looked like he had 10 puppies. He even had the skinny waistline because all the weight was dragging down to a bloated belly look. His gums were OK, his tummy squeaked a bit when I listened to it, and his temp was fine. He did not want to go outside, he just wanted to lay down. I thought he might be bloating, so I squeezed a phazyme onto his gums to see if that would help.
By 11:15, I knew I needed professional advice. I called the clinic, knowing there would be an on-call number posted on the machine. Dr. Wingert was on call last night, and he answered his phone on the second ring. I gave him the rundown, apologizing for the late call at the end of each sentence. He asked questions, and said he was concerned about the distended belly. I asked him if I should take Kane to one of the local emergency clinics. His response? "No, meet me at the clinic in 20 minutes so I can take a look at him myself." Most of the vet clinics in this area have an answering machine that directs people to one of the emergency clinics in town. There isn't a pager number or an on-call vet who knows you and your dog. It's only a voicemail referral to the high-dollar emergency clinic. Dr. Wingert appeared at the clinic, examined Kane, and he decided to snap a couple of xrays just to be sure everything was OK. His exam did not unearth anything terribly wrong with Kane, such as heart or kidney failure, fluid in the abdomen, or blockage. He didn't want to overlook something, and the xrays showed Kane with a ton of gas in his belly, but all else looked normal.
A shot of meds to help ease his discomfort was the total of the treatment required. I apologized profusely for not waiting until morning. Dr. Wingert said it was completely fine, and with the symptom of a distended/bloated belly, it could have been something bad. He said he knew that HE would sleep better knowing that Kane was OK, and that he didn't want to imagine what might have happened if I waited til morning and Kane had a life-threatening problem. He told me to call the clinic in the morning to let him know if Kane was doing better, or to just bring him in if he was not better.
We headed home shortly after midnight, and when we walked out the door, Dr. Wingert was already starting to check in on the overnight patients in the clinic, so I have no idea what time he got to go home. Kane is completely normal and back to his happy self this morning, and he doesn't really acknowledge or feel sorry that his mom got about zero sleep last night!
In the last few months, I've been into the clinic on a Saturday for one reason or another, and either Dr. Becker or Dr. Wingert want me to bring a dog back on Sunday for a re-check. When I showed up at the clinic on a recent Sunday morning during the time the Dr. Becker makes his rounds and checks hospital inpatients, I walked into a waiting room that was quite busy. Several people were there with their pets, waiting to see Dr. Becker. I teased him that he had to stop answering his phone, the waiting room looked like normal business hours. He smiled and said that he just hated for people not to have a vet available when they needed one, and he also hated to see people spend hundreds of dollars just to walk in the door of one of the emergency clinics.
Sometimes I take it for granted that I have such fantastic vets. But then when one of the dogs needs care outside of normal business hours, or I hear less than flattering things from people about their own vet clinic, it reminds me that my dogs (and Tigger the cat too!) are SO lucky to have the best.