Su Lum: An afternoon at the vet’s office | AspenTimes.com
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Su Lum: An afternoon at the vet’s office

Last Wednesday afternoon I took my elderly dachshund Trudy to Aspen Animal Hospital for some badly needed dental work. Normally this is a routine procedure: I stay with Trudy until her knockout shot takes effect, skeedaddle back to the waiting room, read magazines for half an hour and go back again when she’s waking up.But Trudy has liver problems, as well as being 98-years-old in dog years, so she was not the best candidate for anesthesia, which was why the teeth cleaning had been postponed until it was absolutely necessary. Kristen, her vet, advised an IV catheter, so that Trudy could be treated immediately if anything went wrong. When we arrived, Kristen was up to her elbows in emergency surgery on a Bernese mountain dog named Bailey, whose X-rays showed a bottle cap in his stomach, but whose internal bleeding turned out to be caused by a ruptured tumor on his spleen. Kristen was in the process of removing the spleen in the sterile surgery room just off the main room, where Trudy was trembling on the table as a Japan-ese woman, Satomi, shaved a spot on her leg for the IV.It isn’t easy to get an IV into a dachshund’s short legs, and it took three shavings and three tries to get it in. Jennifer, Satomi’s assistant, endeared herself to me by kissing Trudy repeatedly on the head while telling her what a good and brave girl she was and, since I was patting Trudy’s head, suddenly laughed and said she’d almost kissed my hand.I could see Kristen working away in surgery and was getting enured to the IV needles, so by the time Trudy got her knockout shot I was beginning to think that this was a lot more interesting than reading old magazines, and the upshot was that instead of fleeing back to the waiting room I sat through Trudy’s intubation, the extraction of three teeth, the chipping, scraping, ultrasonic cleaning and, finally, the polishing. Jennifer showed me Bailey’s spleen, which was being sent off for lab reports, as Kristen went in after the bottle cap; a card on the cage of a gray cat said that his name was Orrick and noted, “Not getting better,” alas, poor Orrick. Satomi wants to specialize in canine dentistry, which these days includes root canals, periodontics, caps and BRACES (I said she was in the right place for it).Bailey was carried to a mat in the main room to recover from the anesthesia and Kristen, covered with blood, sat on the floor calling the owner. Trudy started to come around and I sat with her in a cage next to Orrick. Jennifer and Satomi cleaned Trudy’s table and brought in another dog who, in a trice, was knocked out and intubated. I remarked that this dog’s teeth looked pristine and they laughed and said, “We’re not going to clean her teeth, we’re going to spay her,” and started shaving her stomach.I thought, “OK, I can do this,” but I wasn’t put to the test because after the dog (Molly, a pound dog) was prepped she was whisked into the surgery room.Usually I look at the world around me and feel relieved that I’m old, but when I left that evening with Trudy I wished I were about 45 years younger and had chosen a different line of work.Su Lum is a longtime local who was so very sad to read in the paper Tuesday that Bailey didn’t make it. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.


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