It began as a day like any other, but when you work in veterinary medicine, “ordinary” is not the description of a typical day and this day was no exception.
We received a frantic phone call from a woman stating her dog’s eye had fallen out. Now at first, of course, this sounds odd, and even for “the unusual” which is often the norm in our occupation, this was a little extreme. The Client Service Representative asked the appropriate questions and the unusual ones for the circumstances, to ascertain if this eye was truly detached from the body, hanging precariously, intact but maybe swollen around the socket, or intact and scratched. As frantic as the woman was it was clear that it was not inside the socket.
The woman explained that she doesn’t drive and that the dog officer came to her home and picked up the dog. The woman sent the dog officer with the dog to our hospital. She lived in a surrounding town, a few towns away from us, but a friend had used our facility in the past and recommended our team. She explained that she could not travel with the dog because the dog officer was only allowed to transport pets, not humans.
About 20 minutes later, the dog officer arrived with a very adorable and surprisingly calm little Boston Terrier dog whose one eye was open and the other closed. Upon closer inspection a few droplets of blood seeped out along the eye lashes of the closed lid, and the eyeball was most definitely not inside. To this little guy, it appeared to be a typical day. Sure he lost his eye, but he took a ride in the car, and went to visit a bunch of people that doted over him and gave him lots of attention. At first the front office team thought he must be in shock. However, he truly was just very calm about the whole situation and all vitals upon examination were normal.
When Dr. Mike entered the exam room, the dog officer presented him with a jar containing the eye with the optic nerve attached and a paper towel. Again, surprisingly, given the situation the dog showed no signs of trauma to brain function, the other eye, or any other physical or mental concerns.
We contacted the owner to explain the situation and that we recommended he receive further specialized attention, but for now he was stable. We cleaned the area and told her we would put him on antibiotics so she could determine where he would receive specialized treatment. Because remarkably, the eye had completely fallen out with the optic nerve attached and the injury had stopped bleeding on its own. She then explained to us that she had no income and wasn’t sure how she could pay for our services.
Recently a very kind individual donated to our hospital some antibiotics and some pain medications that we had prescribed for their pet whom had passed prior to the pet’s use. When that happens we keep the medication until it expires in what we call our “donated meds bin” for situations like this. As it turns out, the medications were just what this little guy needed and fit his dosage requirements as well.
Dr. Mike, whom had examined the dog, donated his time, and because of a kind soul who wanted their beloved deceased pet’s medications to go to good use, to our knowledge the little Boston is on his way to recovery.
You may be asking, how did the injury happen? It is our understanding that another dog in the household bit down on the other dogs head in an altercation in just the perfect manner to cause the very freak accident of the eyeball of a normal, healthy dog to be completely (and what one would think with great precision given the cleanliness of the detachment) dislodged and fall fully intact onto the pet parent’s floor.
While a distressing situation for the pet owner, but seemingly uneventful situation to the little dog given his reaction, calm demeanor and completely normal vitals, it produced for Dr. Mike, a beautiful medically preserved specimen of an eyeball for which he holds a special fascination. He walked around with this gem in his pocket, and left it on his desk for viewing for about two days. To us, that is not unusual, but often we forget that eyeballs in jars are not the norm for most of our clients. To Dr. Mike’s chagrin, a photo of the eye does not accompany this blog post for obvious reasons (we try not to post what some would find as gore, blood and guts), but mostly there is no photo in order to protect the “eye of the beholder” who views it. Because once you “see” it, you can’t “un-see” it. Though none of us here would lose our lunch while viewing it, and we can talk about cases like this in great detail while eating lunch without a second thought; we recognize that the general population might find us quite mad. This may be the holiday season, but it is not Halloween. We have counseled him to let it be and to save its viewing for special occasions or upon request. Should you have the curiosity to view it, just ask him. He will be happy to show you and elaborate on the story.
Pawsitively Pondering the Perplexities of Pets (& Humans…)
Gayle M. Craig, CVPM, CVJ, Practice Manager