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Local Yorkie’s story goes viral on social media

By Sue Sitter - | Jan 23, 2021

Submitted Photo Oscar, a nine-pound Yorkie, sits on a blanket at home in a photo taken before his troubles began.

Veterinarians at Rugby Veterinary Service see animals large and small with a variety of conditions.

Some conditions they treat touch off conversations that make their way beyond the clinic and onto social media.

Dr. Karen Gullickson started a viral social media conversation when she shared the story of Oscar, a nine-pound Yorkie with his owner’s permission, after she treated him at the clinic earlier this month.

Pam Delorme had brought Oscar in for apparent stomach troubles. “He wasn’t feeling like himself,” Delorme said. “He just wanted to lay down and not be bothered.”

Delorme said she wasn’t sure about his appetite – she has other dogs – until he refused treats.

“Then, I knew something wasn’t right,” she said.

“When he came in, I could tell he was a little bit thin,” Gullickson said. “When I palpated his abdomen, I could feel a firm mass. I thought that was kind of strange, so I mentioned to the owner that I should take X-rays. Something didn’t feel right inside.”

“I was concerned there may be a blockage, since I could feel something in the abdomen,” Gullickson added. “So, when I took an X-ray, I was also surprised to find he may have something going on in his stomach as well as the intestinal tract. We could definitely tell there were some foreign bodies there. We weren’t sure what they were, but the owner was a little concerned that it was hair ties.”

Delorme said she has teenage daughters who often tie their hair back in pony tails. “They’re active girls,” she said. “They play basketball and go places, and sometimes hair ties go missing.”

But Delorme said she noticed Oscar had a fascination with hair ties, too.

“He liked to play with them and take them back into his kennel, where he sleeps,” Delorme said. “Once he’s in the kennel, you can’t get anything he has away from him. He’ll growl and won’t let go of it.”

“I figured he would just chew on them and hide them places,” Delorme said. “He likes to hoard things.”

“We didn’t know what was in his stomach, but we certainly had a suspicion that it could be hairbands,” Gullickson said. “So, the next morning, we did surgery on him and once we opened him up, his stomach was completely distended with hairbands and one of our technicians counted them. There were 60 of them.”

“They were the large, thick hair ties,” Gullickson added.

“We made an incision in his abdomen and I removed the hairbands from his stomach first,” Gullickson said. “Then, I had to make a separate incision in his intestine to remove an area where there were five hairbands. They weren’t far from the stomach. They only made it five or six inches out of the stomach into the intestine before they became lodged in the duodenum part of the intestine.”

Gullickson said she had seen other instances where pets had several foreign objects in their stomachs.

“We had a pretty interesting case a couple of years ago where we had a chocolate lab eat a bunch of coins,” Gullickson said. “The owner saw it happen so he brought him in.”

“(Oscar’s) owner wants to bring awareness to (his story) and let pet owners know to watch out for this,” Gullickson said.

Delorme said she believed the ties had been collecting in Oscar’s stomach over a long period of time.

Delorme brought him home to recover, and she says he’s “doing nicely.”

“Dr. Gullickson is really good. She texts me to see how Oscar’s doing,” she said. “He’s still got a cone on so he won’t lick his incision and tear the stictches. That comes off in a couple of days.”

“They’re wonderful at Rugby Veterinary Clinic,” Delorme added.

Delorme said she allowed Rugby Veterinary Clinic to share Oscar’s story to make pet owners aware of the trouble their fur babies can get into.

“Watch your pets,” Delorme said. “They get into everything. I notice one of our dogs gets into the bathroom trash and tries to get cotton swabs out of it. Sometimes I say to them, ‘you guys are worse than little kids,'” she added.

Delorme said she had seen a few negative comments about Oscar’s story on Rugby Veterinary Service’s Facebook page, but she shrugs them off. “I just want to raise awareness about this and help other pet owners,” she said.

Rugby Veterinary Service posted messages on the page discouraging negative comments and said Oscar had “good owners.”

Delorme said she was “amazed” at how many people know Oscar’s story. “He’s gone viral,” she said.

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