Julian Norton: The mystery of the scissors and the Dobermans

Dobermans Obi and Lexi had to be examined in the search for the scissor handles.
Dobermans Obi and Lexi had to be examined in the search for the scissor handles.
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Chris had been a Doberman owner all her life and she knew the handsome, black and tan breed of dog inside out. In fact, on the day in question, it was the insides that were causing her concern. At the end of what had been a very busy afternoon surgery, Chris marched her two Dobermans, ‘Obi’ and ‘Lexi’, into the consulting room.

She looked anxious.

“Julian, I’m worried,” she said.

“I lost my scissors about three weeks ago, but I didn’t think anything more of it until today.”

Chris produced a paper package from her handbag and placed it on the table.

“I found these in the middle of the lawn surrounded by a pile of dog vomit.”

As I unfolded the package, Chris described its contents,

“It’s the metal blades from my scissors, but the handles aren’t there! They are big and made of hard plastic. I’m worried they’re still inside a dog, but I don’t know which one!”

We both looked at the large, slim dogs, with their glossy black coats, standing proudly, side by side. Neither of them looked ill and certainly no one would have guessed that the plastic handles of a pair of scissors were somewhere inside one of them.

I started my examination by palpating the abdomen of each of dog. A Doberman has a deep chest and this makes it very difficult to feel its stomach effectively, as it is tucked away behind the rib cage. I couldn’t really feel anything.

“I think we need to do some X-rays, Chris,” I explained.

The only question was, which dog to choose as the first candidate. It was as if Lexi took a step backwards at this point, leaving Obi standing in the middle of the room, giving the impression that he was the willing volunteer.

Lexi was given the brief respite of a walk around Thirsk, whilst I sedated Obi ready for the radiographs. A pair of scissor handles should show up very clearly on an X-ray, even though they are plastic.

As the digital image appeared on the screen, line by line, Rachel the head nurse, and I both held our breath. But there was nothing to be seen. Obi was in the clear. Although he was the biggest dog and looked the greediest, he was not to blame and would not be under the knife this afternoon. I reversed his sedation and waited for Lexi to come back from her walk.

Since she was clearly the offender, Chris decided to take Obi home and wait for news from there. We all expected to be spending the next couple of hours in theatre, retrieving the scissor handles.

It was déjà vu as the second, almost identical dog lay, stretched out on its side, in the radiography room, just half an hour after the first. But to everyone’s surprise, Lexi was not the culprit either. There were no handles to be seen anywhere inside her abdomen. The phone call to Chris was a mixture of relief and puzzlement. The mystery of the scissor handles remained unsolved.

This sort of thing happens from time to time. Recently, some worried owners rushed in with their new puppy. The message on the computer said, “Puppy, eaten sock”. “We saw it go down!” they reported. Vets, nurses and the camera crew for ‘The Yorkshire Vet’ gathered to watch the procedure - pulling underwear of out the insides of anything is very exciting. There was no sock.

But the most bizarre of missing objects was the set of false teeth. They disappeared into a Labrador, never to be seen again. But that’s another story...

The Yorkshire Vet continues on Channel 5 this Tuesday at 8pm.