A Harrowing Halloween Tale

As All Hallows Eve approaches, I reminisce about the many harrowing events that have taken place in our veterinary hospital. People think we spend our days playing with puppies and cuddling with kittens.

In truth, we do.

Every so often, however, something reminds us that there is a dark side to our world.

This is one such story experienced by my colleague and repeated by myself on many occasions.

I would like to say it was a dark and stormy night, but it was sunny and breezy when Kelly brought Lucky in — a perfect day in paradise, except that Lucky, a cute silky terrier, was having seizures.

My co-worker Dr. Yuen acted quickly to stabilize Lucky. With his condition under control, Kelly headed home to monitor her furry family member of nine years. Instructions were simple: Give Lucky his meds and, if his seizures return, rush back to our hospital or to one of the after-hours emergency clinics in town.

Everything seemed to be going well until the next day, when Lucky started to have seizures again. Being that it was late Sunday evening, Kelly rushed him to an emergency hospital.

After some tests, the emergency veterinarian recommended an MRI. Since Lucky was an older patient, he could have a brain tumor and the MRI would help identify the lesion.

Curiously, the MRI behaved as if Lucky contained metal somewhere in his body. The metallic interference made the MRI results inconclusive.

An X-ray was taken to see where this interference originated. To the surprise of the emergency veterinarian, there appeared to be a thin metallic object in Lucky’s brain.

It looked like a sewing needle.

Under sedation, the veterinarian carefully examined Lucky’s oral cavity and found a piece of thread hanging down from the roof of Lucky’s mouth.

Kelly was given the option of either brain surgery to remove the needle, or gently pulling the piece of thread to see if the needle would exit the way it came in.

She chose the latter. Thankfully, the needle came out smoothly without excessive bleeding or complications.

I became aware of Lucky’s scary predicament when Kelly came in for a recheck appointment. She told me the whole story, and that ever since the needle was removed, Lucky has been free of seizures.

“Lucky is one lucky dog,” I commented. “I guess he is lucky,” replied Kelly. “The strange thing is that I don’t have needle and thread lying around the house.

“A couple of nights prior to his seizures, we went walking on Halloween. I remember seeing Lucky eat a candy that he found as we walked the neighborhood. I think the candy contained the needle that lodged in his brain. Someone must have put it in the candy.”

“Oh my, if it weren’t for Lucky, some child might have …”

I couldn’t finish the sentence.

Some may view Lucky’s actions as a hungry dog on a walk, but I’d like to think it was a selfless act of heroism. When evil rears its ugly head, sometimes it takes the light of an innocent animal to dispel the darkness.

Hug your children and be safe on All Hallows Eve.

Dr. John Kaya is the director of the Windward Community College veterinary technician program and associate veterinarian for VCA University Animal Hospital