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One Dog’s Saturday Night in the Emergency Hospital

My dog Redmond, thesweet "Lafayette Lurcher" who traveled up North to New York City from a dog pound in Louisiana after finding himself homeless in...

Julia Szabo  |  Sep 6th 2010


My dog Redmond, thesweet “Lafayette Lurcher” who traveled up North to New York City from a dog pound in Louisiana after finding himself homeless in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, got himself and me in a very sticky situation late on Saturday night.

I do mean sticky quite literally: While I stepped out to get a bite to eat,Redmond somehow managed to unearth a plastic bottle of Gorilla Glue I didn’t even know was in the apartment. Then he took a bite out of it – actually, several bites.

Normally, I don’t allow skull-and-crossbones substances like that on my premises due to the large number of animals in residence; this ghoulishgluebelonged to an old roommate who’d long since moved out – and I never even knew she had it.So of courseRedmond managed to find it and get up close and personal with it, chewing off the cap and making impressive dents in the plastic squeeze bottle with his teeth.

This substancehappens to beone of the more highlyhazardous home-improvement items on the market; it’s a polyurethane glue that expands after it’s applied, which ishow it formsitsfamouslytight seal. It’s nota good ideato inhale Gorilla Glueor to get it on your hands –that’s how toxic this stuff is. (Of course, wouldn’t you know, I promptly got it on my hands.) But if ingested by a pet or a person, that expanding actionand its subsequent hardening take place inside the body. And that, obviously, could be lethal.

The product’s web sitehelpfully offersa First Aid page. Upon reading it, I had to force myself not to fly into a panic. Here are a few of the choice phrases thatgot my heart pounding: “… may cause gastro-intestinal blockage if swallowed … must be kept out of reach of children and animals … the glue is harmful or fatal if swallowed.”

The site even helpfullylisted the toll-free number of a poison contact center. Splendid. Remind me again why this type of thing always happens way after hours, in the middle of the night, andon a major holiday like Labor Day weekend?

At this point, I went into crisis management mode. I observed that Redmond had some glue on his cheek and his back, and some had spilled out onto the bed sheet, where Redmond undertook his home-improvement project. But I couldn’t see any signs of gluein or around his mouth or on his teeth. What’s more, the bottle, although chomped up, was still mostly full. Did I dare hope we might be out of the woods?

Still,the deeptooth marks on the bottle, plus the chewed-off cap, suggested there was a chance Redmond might have ingested some of the contents, and this concern prompted my call to the ASPCA’s 24-hour poison control hotline, where the experts told me to consult an emergency vetwithout delay, and to have the doctor contact them for guidance.

Now on high alert, I hustled Redmond intothe first availabletaxi – he’s 62 pounds, so getting a cab driver to actually take us was no small achievement – and raced him to the Animal Medical Center in midtown Manhattan, one of New York City’s most prestigious 24-hour vet hospitals.

Once there, Redmond underwent a radiograph to see what was going on in his gut. The vet -who’doncesurgically removed hardened, expandedGorilla Glue from the gut of a Lab -explained that the gray matter showing up in the picture of his intestines could be hardened glue, or it could be food from Redmond’s evening meal five hours earlier. If it did turn out to be glue, Redmond would have to have surgery, to the tune of four or five thousand dollars.

This was a nightmare scenario not only because of the high monetary cost, but because Redmond is also under treatment for heartworm disease. Putting him under general anesthesia with his compromised, microfilaria-infested heart is a huge risk. I was overwhelmed; my eyes started welling up.

The vet kindly told me to breathe, andonce I remembered how to do that, we agreed that the best course of action would be to bring Redmond home with me and observe him for any changes, rather than leaving him at the hospital overnight. If he looks unwell, that’s the time to bring him back to the hospital without delay.

Before we left, the good doctor was kind enough to have Redmond’s glued-up fur patches shaved off, and to give me a CD of his radiograph. The bill came to $345 – peanuts at the AMC, where tabs easily climb to the four and five figures.

So, how’s he doing? So far, so good. On our way back home from the hospital, around 1 a.m.,Redmond had a perfectly normal bowel movement, and produced another one the very next morning: Business as usual. His energy level and appetite are exactly where they were B.G. (before glue). He seems happy. Here’s hoping he was smart enough to spit that glue outwithout swallowing.

Has a similar nightmare happened to you and your dog? Please tell us about it in the comments.