Ruby finds a spring in her step after surgery

Third in a series.

I knew that upon double-checking my repairs to Ruby’s internal wounds they were safe, but it was her high risk of postoperative infection that scared me in broad daylight. We had already given IV antibiotics and, on the way out, irrigated his deep Doberman chest and abdomen with copious amounts of warm saline.

My conversation with Charlie, Ruby’s hired person, had been brief. As Amos and I carefully transported our trauma patient from her car, I quickly explained that the outcome was uncertain. We got the green light to do the necessary. This level of commitment provided an additional discharge of motivation. We had to get this dog out alive.

The constant updates on Ruby’s vital signs during surgery were reassuring and helped me control my blood pressure. As soon as the last skin staple was placed, I inserted a chest tube and vented the air. We connected a Heimlich chest valve to safely drain fluid and more free air. And then we looked like a hawk. It’s been a long night. Amos was by Ruby’s side every minute.

At 8 a.m., the tall girl wobbled on her feet and behaved like a dog in dire need of urinating. With a little support, she staggered out. There was actually a bit of a spring in his step as he walked in.

Amos was a vital part of my team for many of my early years in practice. He was a shy boy, but nothing was too hard for him. Amos was not his real name. When a German Shepherd puppy appeared in his life, he affectionately named her Jennifer. On my advice, he called her to enroll her in obedience classes. When asked his name, he replied, “My name is Bob Schwartz.” When he arrived for class, the instructor cheerfully greeted him, saying, “Well, you must be the man with three names: Amos Bob Schwartz.” He was still Amos after that.

Next week: Modern Medicine was Ruby’s first speaker; Mother Nature was on hand for the rest.

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Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist who offers in-person and group consultations via Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week, he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up for free at Post your pet questions at or by mail at 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.