The name “Smokey” took on a whole new meaning at a London, KY, backyard cookout as this little Smokey got too close to the cooking action.
Look at this photo of Smokey with a giant grilling fork impaled, not just in his head, but in his brain! His veterinarian, Dr. Keaton Smith, of the Cumberland Valley Animal Hospital, was on duty when Smokey arrived. His owner, Hughie Wagers, had been looking for Smokey for two days after the accident in which the fork handle broke off from the tines, flew up into the air, and the metal part came down into Smokey’s head.
Look at the radiograph (X-ray) and you will wonder how a utensil as dull as a fork got that deep into a skull. Most likely two main factors were in play. One, Chihuahuas commonly have open fontanelles, a “soft spot” in the skull where the left and right halves of the bone are supposed to meet. That “soft spot” is quite easily penetrated, having only skin between the great outdoors and a puppy’s brain. The skull defect sometimes occurs in other breeds as well. It is rare in cats.
Veterinarians routinely warn Chihuahua owners to be vigilant about falling-object injuries in puppies with open fontanelles.
Two, the fork’s left tine probably entered the fluid-filled space between brain hemispheres, where there is very little tissue resistance.
After twelve-week-old Smokey was impaled, he ran into a nearby woods, where he hid for two days. That maneuver could have been just as dangerous for Smokey as his initial injury. Young pups are unable to go long without food, having only small glycogen stores in their livers and being highly subject to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which can lead to seizures and death.
Of course, Smokey’s risk of wound infection increased with the time he was in dirty conditions, untreated. Dr. Smith rushed Smokey to surgery. There he was anesthetized and his wound was clipped and cleaned thoroughly. Radiographs were taken. There was nothing left to do, then, but pull the thing out.
Dr. Smith reports that Smokey is doing well, considering. Some brain deficits are present and right eye movements are impaired. It is possible that those deficits could be permanent or temporary. Nerve damage in young patients often is healed and reversed.
Veterinarian Smith described Smokey as “a little miracle.”
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.