Steamboat pooch swallowed the wrong weed and wound up in Denver to undergo chest surgery | SteamboatToday.com
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Steamboat pooch swallowed the wrong weed and wound up in Denver to undergo chest surgery

Rob Day and his yellow Lab
Courtesy photo

If you go

What: Fundraiser for Grady Day, the yellow Lab who underwent emergency chest surgery in Denver this month. Expect live music, light apps from Harwig’s, The Y-Not Wagon food truck, silent auction and raffle

When: 4-8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 15

Where: Butcherknife Brewing Company, 2875 Elk River Road

Visit Grady Day’s Facebook page

Support Grady on Giveforward

— In many ways, the Yampa Valley is dog heaven. Canines here swim in clear streams, roll in summer snowbanks and use their sniffers to detect the passing of a wide variety of wild animals.

Steamboat dogs also have ample ways to get themselves into trouble. The most common are skunks and porcupines, but they can also get kicked by cows, stalked by mountain lions and assaulted by moose. And there’s plenty of stinky stuff to roll in out there.

However, few pet owners realize there’s a weed in Routt County, known as foxtail, that can be life-threatening.



If you go

What: Fundraiser for Grady Day, the yellow Lab who underwent emergency chest surgery in Denver this month. Expect live music, light apps from Harwig’s, The Y-Not Wagon food truck, silent auction and raffle

When: 4-8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 15



Where: Butcherknife Brewing Company, 2875 Elk River Road

Visit Grady Day’s Facebook page

Support Grady on Giveforward

It was an encounter with foxtails that sent a three-year-old yellow Lab named Grady Day to a veterinary clinic in Denver this month for emergency surgery. Thousands of dollars later, Grady was back to his old self this week, owner Rob Day said. But Grady’s medical emergency is a cautionary tale for all dog owners.

“This was just bad luck,” Day said. “Grady was just running around, as dogs do,” when he ingested a foxtail seed.

Foxtails bear some resemblance to a rather dramatic version of a wheat stem, only with longer tendrils branching out from the seeds. What you cannot see right away is that the points of their seeds are very sharp and barbed. They are designed to penetrate the soil and not give up ground. If there’s any good news about foxtails, it’s that they’re more common in Southern California than in Northwest Colorado. You can see the weed and read more about the danger it poses for dogs at The Dogington Post.

What humans cannot see is the coating of bacteria on the seeds that is laden with enzymes intended to break down competing plants, but is also capable of breaking down animal flesh and causing a bad infection. Typically, a foxtail seed would become snagged in a dog’s coat and, from there, work its way under the skin. But in this case, Grady had ingested one of the seeds.

By Sept. 3, when Rob realized something was really not right with Grady, the seed had likely been doing its work for at least two weeks, he was later told.

Day, who also has a 12-year-old yellow Lab named Brody, dropped Grady off at Pet Kare Clinic on his way to work and soon received a call back.

“They were adamant that we get in the car and get to a vet in Denver as fast as we could,” Rob said.

Rance Hampton, DVM at Pet Kare Clinic, said an X-ray revealed a severe abnormality in Grady’s chest.

“One of the concerns we had was a tear of the chest tissue that separates the chest from the abdomen,” Hampton said. “You could tell the lungs were being compromised. We knew there was stuff going on in Grady’s chest that was likely to need surgical correction we aren’t set up to do in Northwest Colorado.”

Hampton referred Rob and his pet to VRCC vet clinic in Denver, where a CAT scan confirmed Grady needed major surgery. And that’s when Rob was fully confronted with the amount of money it would take to save his canine friend.

“The initial estimate was that it would cost between $10,000 and $13,000 (for surgery), but they wanted just under $10,000 cash to admit him, and obviously, I didn’t have that,” Day said, but added, “He’s just three-years-old and a great dog. I got on the phone and begged. I came up with $8,000 in 90 minutes, and they went with that.

“Luckily for me and the dog, they were able to isolate the spot where the infection was. They cut a bunch of tissue away and cut a piece of lung out. Along with the tissue, the veterinarian removed a slender, but wicked, seed, just a half-inch in length.

Day feels fortunate that he and Grady are part of the Steamboat Springs community. As of Friday, nearly $4,000 had been donated to Grady on his Giveforward site. And friends are planning a Sept. 15 fundraiser at Butcherknife Brewing where Rob works.

“I’m just speechless and blown away by how many people, locally, but also across the country, have supported us. This is another reason people should live in Steamboat and get in tight with the community. It’s an awesome feeling,” Day said.

He acknowledged he had to think hard before spending so much money to save a pet.

“If he had been 10, it probably would have been a little bit different story,” he acknowledged. “But it just didn’t seem correct (to let him go). I don’t have any children yet. These dogs are my children … I don’t have this money but I was prepared to sell snowmobiles, cars and bikes to do what it took to save my dog.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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