Cruel Ironies

Our recent conspicuous absence has been the result of a life-threatening emergency. While I’ve not commented on your posts, be assured I am doing my best to keep up with what’s going on in your world in between moments of waiting and wondering at the outcome of this emergency.

You may be wondering what happened? In a truly cruel twist of irony, on the third month anniversary of Sam’s crossing the Bridge, last week Norman suffered a gastric dilation and volvulus event, an ominous medical syndrome known as GDV. Commonly referred to as gastric torsion or bloat, this horrific condition occurs when the stomach dilates, then rotates or twists around the short axis cutting off blood supply to vital organs. My previous Standard Poodle before Sam, McKenzie, died from bloat so I’m sadly all too familiar with the symptoms and heartbreak. Gastric rotation includes progressive distension of the stomach in the form of gas and increased pressure within the abdomen, resulting in damage to the cardiovascular system, with decreased perfusion (the process of delivering nutrients via blood in the arteries to the body’s tissues) which can lead to cellular damage and organ death. Quick emergency action is required whenever GDV strikes-to delay can be life-threatening.

What exactly are the symptoms of GDV? According to PetMD, symptoms of GDV syndrome are: “anxious behavior, depression, abdominal pain and/or distention, collapse, excessive drooling, and vomiting to the point of unproductive dry heaving.” Upon physical examination, rapid heart beat (tachycardia), labored breathing (dyspnea), weak pulse and pale mucus membranes of the nose and mouth often accompany the other symptoms.

While the exact causes of GDV remain unknown, there are general factors that likely increase the risk, including genetics, anatomy, and environment. Highest at-risk dogs are large and giant breeds, particularly those with deep-chests breeds such as Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Standard Poodles (with high rates of mortality). Other factors contributing to the development of GDV include ingestion of excessive amounts of food or water, delayed emptying of the gastrointestinal system, and too much activity following meals.

GDV must be treated through surgical intervention with the untwisting of the stomach which is then tacked to the body wall to prevent it from twisting again (known as “gastropexy”). The vet expressed some concern the spleen may also have been impacted but he did not see any damage in Norman’s case, despite a 180º degree twist and internal stomach bruising. While dogs can survive without a spleen, potential heart damage through the lack of blood flow may complicate recovery.

For those of you who may be squeamish, you may want to scroll down before viewing this stem-to-stern incision. I’ve assured Norman that ‘chicks dig scars’ so he isn’t feeling too self conscience about it.

Stem-to-stern incision

Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, I was not permitted to visit Norman following his surgery but received frequent phone updates for the first two days (ok, it was me that pestered them all hours of the day and night) but they understood my concern and took my hourly relentless calls with kindness, patience and caring. He survived the surgery; the vet thought there was no lasting damage to the spleen or any apparent heart damage based on his visible examination of the organs during the surgery which gave me hope but the next few days would be touch and go. With that large belly incision, it’s clearly apparent this was a very serious surgical intervention. And understandably, he refused to eat after coming out of anesthesia. Norman never passes an opportunity for a meal so I knew he was in some serious pain. The staff finally allowed me to take him for a very brief few steps on a potty break outside late Saturday evening. It was hoped my presence might encourage him to eat a few bites. With traces of anesthesia still in his system, he was somewhat confused, heavy-footed and wobbly. He finally ate a few bites Saturday night and was deemed sufficiently dischargeable late the next afternoon.

Again in another irony, on the one day of the year when it rained buckets around here in otherwise dry Denver, I was able to bring the big guy home to nurse and pamper following extensive post-op instructions. He’s taken well to the pampering and promptly became a food critic…refusing to eat the bland diet of rice and chicken prescribed. If rice even touched the chicken, he refused eating it. After consulting with the ER staff, they agreed small, frequent meals of plain chicken without rice was better than nothing. As a long time vegetarian, it was beyond surreal having packages of deboned, skinless chicken breasts in my kitchen. For years, I’ve said I’d eat beef before I ever ate chicken again, the mere smell of it makes me nauseous. But nursing this sweet boy back to wellness was far more important than any olfactory discomfort on my part so I held my nose, cooked, and chopped the chicken into small pieces for him. As of today his appetite has mostly returned, with him enjoying frequent but small meals throughout the day.

The dreaded e-collar has vexed Norman as he continues to improve. Sheepdogs have a bear-like shuffle and often their heads sway back and forth in rhythm as they move. With the cone on, it crashes into furniture, walls, doorways, and the back of my knees with painful regularity. With encouragement and patience, he is beginning to gain the necessary confidence to navigate better with it on every day.

I would be most remiss if I didn’t mention the one person in particular helped me throughout this whole nightmare and she knows who she is. This dearest of friends has consistently been my rock and pillar over the years and I am once again deeply indebted to her generosity, love and kindness. Thank you, my friend and thanks in advance to everyone for their support while Norman recoups. It means the world to me. With emotions still raw from the loss of dear Sam, this latest calamity has once again shocked me to the core. It’s been days since I’ve had a decent night’s sleep but will be fine once Norman makes it out of the woods and gratefully accept your well wishes and POTP prayers. With your healing energy thoughts and Elsa’s oversight of his care, I expect him to fully recover and look forward to those smile inducing butt wiggles to rule our days once again.

Yes, life is full of cruel ironies especially in the midst of a pandemic, but this was one that was an even more unexpectedly cruel. As its image in life’s rear view mirror becomes smaller, we move forward. Besides, Norman thinks there’s a new toy that requires some serious attention without the conflangled wrangling with an e-collar that simultaneously gets bad reception and interferes with fun.

A 30-second moment of normality and then a long snooze yesterday evening

Live, love, bark! 🐾

123 thoughts on “Cruel Ironies

    1. Thank you. He is storming back and the goal for the next 3 days until he gets the stitches out will be to try and contain him. He’s a bit like a bull in a china shop bashing that cone into everything and everyone. 😉

  1. Lulu: “Oh no! Poor Norman! We’re so sorry to hear about this! I’m sending lots of fluffy tail wags for him to continue his recovery.”
    Charlee: “And we Hipsters send purrs!”
    Chaplin: “Yes we do! Hey, Lulu, you’re a chick. Do chicks really dig scars?”
    Lulu: “Oh yeah, a scar like that marks you out as an international dog of mystery, Norman, no question!”
    Charlee: “Hey, I’m a chick too.”
    Lulu: “No offense, Charlee, but I think Norman’s more interested in a dog chick’s opinion than a cat chick’s.”

    1. Boy, you have no idea Garfield. I never knew such anguish could come from a dog’s voice. Thanks for those healing rays. We’ll put them to good use.

  2. Oh my… I’m so glad that you knew the symptoms and acted quickly. You saved his life. We’ve been through this once – and our boy survived. I’m so glad that Norman did too. Sending all of you lots of love.

    1. It was terrifying-I’d been through it once before too and the outcome was not as happy. Thanks for the loving thoughts-I do believe it’s helping Norman get better. 💖

  3. The E-collars for large dogs are huge! I’m glad Norman is recovering and I’m grateful for the medical care he received. Take care of yourself, too.

    1. Thank you for the well wishes. No doubt we could probably reach the Space Station with his collar but I’ll be very thrilled when he’s out of it (so will the back of my legs!).

          1. There may be alternatives to the collar available. Since you are home with him all the time (thanks to the virus), he may not even need it unless you are sleeping. But any collar is better than having the alternative of No Norman, I agree. Sending healing thoughts of comfort over the ether to you both.

  4. Oh Poor Norman and you!!!
    So glad he is recovering under the best of care! 🙂
    Continued thoughts and prayers for a full recovrry.💚💛❤

    1. Thanks ever so much. It was one of the worst weeks ever but things look vastly different this week. Looking forward for “Stormin Norman’s full recovery.

  5. How very scary, I’m glad you knew the signs and got him into the vets. I’m glad the surgery was a success. Praying for a full recovery.

  6. Oh, poor Norman. Thanks so much for the update, and for sharing facts about GDV with your followers. So hard going through a veterinary emergency during this time, but it does happen. Sending warm get well wishes to Norman!

    1. It’s a horrible condition that takes far too many good dogs. Thanks for the well wishes. Have a lovely weekend.

  7. Oh my! I’ve always been petrified of my poodle-love getting bloat though I was told since he’s a medium standard the risk was somewhat less. I am so sorry that Norman (and his family) had to go through it. He’s one lucky pooch for having you in his life! Sending best wishes for the speediest of recoveries. ❤️🙏

    1. Thank you for the kind wishes, Cristina. The standard before Sam suffered it and did not survive. The rescue organization from which Elsa came tacked all their rescues as a rule whenever they were spayed or neutered. Stay safe, stay blissful and keep smiling.

  8. Monika, I’m so sad you and your canine family have suffered so much this year. I’m very happy to learn that Norman is doing better! You are blessed to have an Angel friend and we, your family, are so happy that your friend can be there to help through these difficult times when we cannot.. we are also grateful to the many blogger friends who lift you up and send their support. Get some rest and have a much better weekend!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and comforting thoughts. We truly are blessed for our family, be they blood related or the digital blog family that has so embraced this sweet boy. Love ya! 🥰

  9. It was hard to press the like button but let me clarify that I like that Norman seems to be on his way to full recovery. Poor Norman and poor mom. I can only imagine the emotional pain and suffering you must have and still are enduring. A constant stream of Prayers and Golden light are coming your way from the Golden K.

    1. Many thanks for your comforting thoughts and prayers. It’s been a real roller coaster week for sure but with each of the past couple of days, Norman is ‘stormin’ back. In fact as of early this morning, it’s becoming harder to contain his energy and with that cone that crashes into everything, he’s like a bull in a china shop. Color me happy for that!

    1. Thanks, Bernice. He’s turned the corner, cuter and sweeter than ever which makes me ever so grateful.

    1. Thanks, M. K. We appreciate the kind thoughts and are working toward getting back to normal as soon as possible.

  10. HOLY CRAP!!! OMD, this is always one of Ma’s fears ~ she was always on the lookout with Angel Panda, and with us Airedales, cause we are prone to it too. I am so happy that you caught it in time!!!
    Oh Norman, don’t you fret abouts the scar ~ it looks like mine! I was stem to stern too! It is super scary for the Moms, so you have to lets her pamper you, and hand feed you (that’s what I did ☺) and loves on you. You do what your Moms tells you, k? And, congrats on that cone-o-shame ~ I was lucky, I got to wear an inflatable donut cause I was hopped up on a Fetanyl patch, and had no desire to go near my incision. Butts you are rockin’ that cone my furiend!!!! Oh, and I hear it’s FABulous for catchin’ treaties too! BOL! I am sendin’ lots and lots of POTP, healin’ vibes, and tons of AireZens to you and your Moms!!!! ♥♥
    Ruby ♥

    1. Many thanks, Ruby. I’ve heard Airedale’s can have that horrible condition happen to them. So gawd awful. Us moms always worry about our fur-babies especially when we can’t be with them in the Vet’s office. Our minds always travel to the worst case scenario stuff. Luckily Dr. Burnett did a great job for which I’m really grateful. And one of the techs took extra special care of Norman. I’m truly blessed.

  11. And to think we thought it was that you didn’t love us anymore. My peep is a vegetarian on moral grounds. Loves animals.

    1. Thanks, Patty Anne. Appreciate the hugs and prayers. Norman sends woofs and bum wiggles. 😊

  12. What a horrific turn of events I am so glad that Norman pulled through. You must have suffered from terrible worry and anxiety. We pray for a full recovery.

    1. Thank you for the well wishes. It was one of the scariest times I’ve ever experienced as a dog owner. Not being able to see him compounded my fears.

    2. It was definitely some scary days. While his care providers are top notch, I wish I could have been there with him. It was probably as upsetting to him as it was to me. Luckily we both survived.

  13. Ohmigosh, Monika!! I am so sorry you and Norman went through all that!! But I’m glad that your sweet boy is on the mend. I wish I could have been there for you! I’m glad your special friend was able to be! Sweet Sam was watching over his new brother for sure! 😇😇

    Ducky and I send you all love and POTP. Know that we’re here for you.

    1. Thanks so much, Sue. Yeah, it’s been quite the week but Norman has been some noticeable improvement over the past 36 hours and hope he continues to make progress with each day. We’re shooting for stitches to be removed maybe even as soon as next Wednesday 🤞🏻 Hug sweet Ducky for me.

  14. Thank goodness, he pulled through and is home. It’s so sad you couldn’t be with him, which must have intensified the agony. Believe me, I understand. Sending you good thoughts that Norman continues to heal well without complications and that you have a good weekend. Sending hugs to you. Paulette

    1. Thanks so much Paulette. It was touch and go and consider ourselves incredibly lucky.

  15. Goodness, what a frightening time you must have had, poor Norman – and poor you with all the concern and worry. Although a worrying time, I am so glad Norman is recovering but I think, also, we should spare a thought for Elsa. She must be concerned about what is happening. I am also glad that you have had friends around to help. That’s good. Benji and I send our best wishes and we will keep you in our constant thoughts. Stay strong – keep safe.

    1. It really was, way too many sad memories were dredged up.

      Never fear the Ninja is getting lots of one on one time with her mum. And enjoying every minute. 🥰

  16. Oh no! Sorry you and Norman had to go through this. Glad you knew the symptoms and got him in right away. I know that had to be so scary. Sending healing thoughts and prayer to all of you!

    1. Thanks for the healing thoughts and prayers. From experience I learned GDV is nothing to ignore even for a short time. I’m just so grateful the vet was able to save him. 😍

  17. My goodness, Norman! What a thing for you and your family to go through! I think you have all had enough horrific, terrifying, drama for a long while now. Keep eating your chicken and thinking happy thoughts. Mom and I said prayers for you, so we know you will do fine and have a speedy recovery. Hang in there, buddy.

    Love and licks,

    1. Many thanks for the prayers, Cupcake. It means so much to us. Norman is enjoying this chicken thing more than you can imagine. 🍗🍗🍗

    1. Thank you, guys. Norman has been making leaps and bounds improvements the past couple of days. Hard to believe where he was at just a few days ago.

  18. Bloat is such a wretched thing, and I’m so glad that Norman made it through!! I once had a pet sitting client leave me a phone message saying they thought their dog was in bloat, and I about had a fit that they called me instead of their vet. Luckily the dog did not have bloat. Send POTP to Norman, and hope he is completely healed up soon.

  19. When we saw the word bloat on your Instagram post last night, we feared for Norman (and you). We are so thankful he came through the surgery. With your loving and devoted care, we know he will mend well. Lots of POTP headed your way.

    Woos, Lightning and Timber and Mom too

  20. Good to hear that you got Norman to the vet in time and that he is recovering well. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him to recover fully and quickly. Give that guy a nice hug from me,

  21. So thankful Norman is recovering. I can imagine what you went through. Three months after losing Sam means you are still grieving and to have such a scare with Norman must have been horrible. I am thankful that you are sharing Norman’s experience and the journey you are on as it will be helpful to so many. I love the photo of Norman with is toy!
    Anita (The Purrsonal Assistant to the Tribe at Feline Opines)

    1. Thanks for the sweet comment. The timing was cruelly ironic. Happy to report he’s getting better by the day. He can’t wait to play with his beaver stuffie.

    1. Thank you. It’s amazing how long you can hold your breath when your fur baby is at stake as you know all too well lately.

  22. OMG…what a shocker! Thank heavens Norman is doing well for most part now. He has had a terrible struggle. Your love and understanding has meant so much to his recovery. I feel so positive about this…my thoughts are with you, Norman and Elsa.

    Big hugs,


    1. Many thanks for the kind wishes. Yeah, Norman has had a rough go of it this year. Hopefully now his troubles are long gone.

  23. Norman is so lucky for your quick actions. That poor fella and you. Sending you and Norman hugs and prayers.

  24. Monika,

    You were a rock star with Norman! Cool, calm, collected and you moved on it and saved his life! Sweet Norman in so much pain and yet he never once growled, nipped or snapped just those big, soulful eyes looking right at us with such pain and sadness. So another tough bonding experience we’ve been through together and I’m super proud to be his official God Momma! Love you girl and your fur kids too! I watched all the good you accomplished with Sam and I predict the same with your sweet Norman. It was not his time – the two of you have much good to give to the world!

    Love and kisses to you, sweet boy Norman and precious Elsa!


    1. You’re the rock star, my friend. Norman and I are ever so grateful. Love you!

  25. Man ‘o man that must have be a scary time and…ai yai yai… those terrible feelings of helplessness when a loved pup is in pain. Fortunately for our hero, DogMom was right on the spot and did everything that Norman needed to bring him back from the brink! Good on ya, Monika! The whole experience was surely horrible, including your exposure to fresh chicken. 👿 You’ve had more than your share of tough times so I’m betting you’ve turned the corner and soon it will be laissez le bon temps rouler time for you and the Ranch Hands. 🧡

    1. Thanks, Maxwell. Experience with this horrible condition along with the fact Norman and I were very lucky got us through this. That and very dear and special friends.

      So long as chicken ain’t on the menu in the near future I think we’ll manage to muddle through this just fine.

  26. I was at a loss when I read this a little earlier on my phone. But I’m confidence Norman will come back better than ever. He’s got such a great family.

    Blessings, love and hugs

    1. Thank you, Marc. We are truly blessed so many people have shown their concern and love. Norman has been making good progress the past couple of days so I’m keeping my fingers crossed he recovers fully.

  27. How awful for you not to be able to be with him at the vet….you must have been on edge all the time. So gld he is at hime and, thanks to you, eating.

    1. It was excruciating. Norman’s never been one to miss meals so I knew he was in some serious shape. But he’s made some enormous progress the past couple of days.

        1. When he’s hungry he’ll probably make do with the old diet. I hope. {gulp}

  28. How awful, but so good that you pay attention to your babies. Norman will get the very best care and it’s good that you have such a great friend to lean on.

    Big healing hugs to you and Norman. You’re both in my thoughts and prayers. ♥

    1. Thanks so much. We are truly blessed that so many dear readers like you are sending their well wishes.

    1. Thanks. Time is really of the essence especially when you’re talking GDV. Thanks for swinging by the Ranch and for the follow. We 💙 visitors.

      1. In the last 4 years I have lost a 12-year-old and a 3 1/2 year old to spleen/lung cancer. I had spent a year trying to find what was wrong with older dog. It was found too late. I did not even know the young dog was ill. The tumor ruptured and she was gone. That was horrible. I would not with that experience on anyone. Really glad you got your pup help.

        1. Oh I’m so sorry for your losses. Having just lost my heart and souls dog 3 months ago it’s so heartbreaking when they leave our sides.

  29. Oh my gosh, Monika, I am so sorry you and Norman have had to go through this! I wish there wasn’t so much truth to the old adage “when it rains, it pours”. Of course, you know I’ve been distracted lately so I hadn’t picked up on your absence yet. But when I saw your blog title I just knew I had to come right over….with my heart in my stomach worried about what had happened. I am so relieved, as I know you are, that Norman got through the surgery OK. My thoughts and prayers are with you for his continued recovery. Sending big hugs and love from both Luke and me. ♥

    1. Thanks for the kind thoughts, Jan. Hope the opening went well and the business is super successful. 💖

    1. Thanks Amy. It’s been several days of worry but hope we’re on the road to a full recovery.

  30. Mee-yow EEKKK!! Norman what a terribell thing to have happen! Mee iss sendin all mee POTP an purrayerss to Sky Cat to help you get bettur soon….
    Miss Monika yore a wudnerfull Poochie Meowmy so wee KNOw Norman will get well soon…
    An Elsa mee thinkss yore on ‘Purry-medic’ duty fore THE foreseeabell future.
    Pleese rest well Norman an feel bettur soon…
    ***purrss*** BellaDharma an {{huggiess}} LadyMew

    1. Thanks sweet kitty. Really appreciate your POTP wishes and kind words. 😍

  31. we were shocked today as we saw your post at insta…it was like a bad deja-vu and the night what ruined my life was back in my mind… but we are so happy now that your vets and your wonderful trooper pup won this fight!!! we send lots of power and positive thoughts to you and the biggest hugs this slice earth has seen!!!!

    1. It’s a horrible condition for pets and their parents. I’m so sorry this brought back sad memories. Hugs your way. 💖

  32. Omg.
    on the heels of the lid swallowing. the lid too. You’ve had too much heartache lately. But…
    the surgery went well!!! I’ve known too many poodles who died of this. Yea Norman! Way to survive buddy! What’s it like having two dogs, does Elsa try to lick his incision? It has to smell of disinfectant!

    1. She’s been very good around him but keeps a watchful eye on him. She was out of sorts while he was gone but glad he’s back now. Yeah, it’s been one hell of a year. Having lost McKenzie the Standard I had before Sam, I’m way too familiar with the loss and heartache of GDV and poodles.

  33. OMG Monika, yes this is beyond cruel. I am happy to read that Norman is on the mend and THANK GOD he is eating now. Praying for a good outcome to all of this. We have xrays and a possible ultrasound for Cody tomorrow and am hoping to connect with you soon. I wish I had known about this. Sending tons of POTP!!!!!!! and lots of love.

    1. Thank you. Oh gosh, sending loads of POTP energy your and Cody’s way. Thinking of you. 💖

  34. Holy moly, my friend. I have no words. I am so very thankful you knew the signs (while wishing you didn’t need to know them) and that Stormin’ Norman will live up to his name.
    Sending you armfuls of love and strength and hope and care and everything else I can send virtually.
    Lotsa love,

  35. Oh Normie I’m so sorry you had to go through that pain but what a lucky boy you were to have a Mom who recognized what was going on and got you out of trouble as quickly as she could. You’ll be right as rain in no time if you just keep eating well and doing what Mom and your vet tell you to do. I know that collar is driving you nuts BUT you don’t want anything to interfere with the healing of your 100 inch scar (alright – so it’s not quite 100 inches but it’s a biggie!). I’m sending POTP – I know it’s from a CAT but POTP works wherever it comes from. Hang in there big guy – you’ve got a lot of fun out there waiting for you to catch up to it! Hugs to your Mom from my Mom too.

    Love, Teddy

  36. Acting quickly is the only way to survive bloat. I knew the deep chested dogs were prone to it, especially
    poodles, great danes and greyhounds, but didn’t know sheepdogs were. I work forr a poodle rescue, and they get the tummies tucked on all the standards before they are adopted, but many rescues don’t do that.
    On an aside, Luna, the spokesdog of Carolina Poodle Rescue, owned by the directer, bloated the night before they were to do a 5k race. Luna survived her operation, and the director’s husband loaned her his standard to run the race, through hill and dale and lots of mud. He finished, but was no longer white.

    1. Sheepdogs aren’t typically thought to be high risk but Norman has a large deep chest. The rescue I got Elsa from always had gastropexies performed at the time of spay/neuter on all their rescued dogs.

  37. That is some collar! I am so sorry for Norman but I’m glad you recognized it and acted quickly. Sending prayers and positive energy your way. Hugs.

    1. Thank you. I thought we might get HBO/Max streaming with the size of that monster, but alas, no such luck.

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