Seven years ago, at the generosity of a breeder of black and yellow English labradors, a four year old entered our home. Completely unlike our dog who had passed away half a year before (see alpha dog on my website), this black lab with the perked up ears, the tilted head and the coal black eyes worked her way into our hearts.

She arrived already named (remember, she was four)--Princess. Now, I wouldn't ever call a dog 'Princess' but it didn't seem right to change her name. We call her 'P.'

I'm going to digress here a tad, just over the name. I was in our neighbourhood park recently and had let her off her leash and called her back to me. "P," I called. "Here, P." A small girl, her mouth in a horrified circled O, turned to her mother, scandalized. "Mom!," she exclaimed, "they call their dog Pee!"

I fought the urge to respond back with "Yes, and our cat is called Poo."

Anyway, back to the story. Princess is not what you'd call a picky eater. In fact, if it's not nailed down, it's pretty much fair game. Garbage? Yum! Compost? Delectable! Carrot rinds, apple cores... the organic bin must be left shut, always!

So last week when we got the frantic call from our son that Princess was really, really sick... I won't go into the symptoms as this is a Sunday paper... He brought her from the cottage down to Honey Harbour by boat. My husband cancelled his morning at work and drove to pick her up and take her to the inveterate Dr. Lloyd Fisher.

An antibiotic drip, and a wait and see attitude... there's nothing like the calmness of being with someone who knows exactly what they're doing! She stayed the night. We picked her up the next morning, with pills, a geriatric gentle diet kibble and great gratitude.

We were mortified two days later when P brought up a pile of bones (they looked like bird or squirrel,, definitely not turkey or pork chops) and realized what had caused her catastrophe.

Dr. Fisher laughs a bit when you ask him about what dogs eat. He has a cabinet in one of the examining rooms where he has collections of interesting things he's removed from dogs whose eyes paid absolutely no heed to their stomachs.

For instance, there's the 7 month old Springer Spaniel who was brought in because it hadn't gone 'big business' (as my father in law says) in several days. Well, no wonder. Dr. Fisher x-rayed and then operated... he removed a metal spatula, a spoon, several big stones, parts of a leash, and a plastic bowl. All in the same dog at the same time! No wonder the dog couldn't do doo-doo.

Since he started his practice on Sophia St in 1958, Dr Fisher has seen it all.

Take New Years Eve a few years ago. It was 11 pm and a frantic couple arrived with their Husky in tow. Seems the couple had given a dinner party, complete with a very fancy cake covered completely with marshmallows. The group headed out for a bit, leaving dessert for their midnight return. When they came back, the cake was gone. Alarm bells sounded when they realized the cake was the Husky's New Years Eve celebration. Trouble was the marshmallows had been affixed to the cake with long straight pins, over 100 of them. And the pins were now inside Fido.

An x-ray confirmed this. Surgery was conducted almost immediately and Dr. Fisher saw the New Year in as he applied a heavy duty magnet into the stomach cavity of the dog... lots of straight pins smucked themselves to the magnet. Fido was saved! Dr. Fisher says the pins were all over the place!

And then there's the Doberman whose owner brought him in twice for the same problem. Seems the dog and owner liked to play catch. And the "catch" item was a tennis ball. Trouble is, every so often the Doberman would just eat the tennis ball and the furry rubber would sit in bits, undigested, until surgically removed.

Oh, and the Bull Terrier with the love of wood. Frantic owners brought their dog in... he had a fever and was 'peckish.' Dr. Fisher x-rayed... nothing. Antibiotics were ineffective and the owners took their dog home. They came back after finding a lump at the top of the back vertebrae, in the neck. Fearing an absess, Dr. Fisher made an incision to drain it... Nothing to drain, though... he retrieved a wooden branch 8-9" long and 3/4" thick. It hadn't shown up on the x-rays but it sure worked its way behind the dog's heart and up through its neck!

Dr. Fisher dispelled my theory that Labs are the worst. It took awhile for us to realize that every time someone arrives, Princess is going to find SOMETHING to lay at their feet... socks, a slipper, a hat, anything. I guess it's the bird-dog syndrome... they need to present something. Gently, ever gently, she'll lay down something. At the cottage, she picks up slippers and runs down to the dock, presenting them to people as they arrive by boat. We have a lot of unmatched slippers.

All kinds of dogs eat things that remain a mystery. And it's not just young dogs; older dogs consume things too. Princess is 11 and she's proof that intellect and age don't connect with each other!

Dr. Fisher recalls the incident where another frantic pet owner arrived... x-rays and surgery... the dog had eaten its entire leather leash, clip and all!

Horse hoofs, corn cobs, peach pits, styrofoam meat trays ... it's all attractive to the canine palate.... Dr. Fisher has removed underwear, and socks from a lot of dogs. I guess after 48 years of animal care, you've seen just about everything!

Gives me a new theory... you know how you bring your socks out of the dryer and there's never a pair? There's only one? Well, stop picking at the lint trap. It probably joined the kibble somewhere in the depths of your dog's tummy.

Thanks, Dr. Fisher, from all those relieved tummies!

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