When things go missing in Henry’s house, the 19-month Labrador retriever is usually the primary burglary suspect. Henry’s breed is known for finding great joy in stealing. Retrievers don’t limit themselves to purloining food, of course. Most are particularly fond of socks, blankets, shoes, dish towels and other goodies.

When Henry’s owner noticed some socks missing, she figured Henry had some explaining to do. It was soon apparent Henry had not committed his usual heist, though. He vomited his dinner and treat, and he had a loose bowel movement. By morning, he still couldn’t hold down food, wasn’t drinking much water and had become a little lethargic.

Henry went to see Dr. Bailey Pietsch at Greendale Village Vet. He was his happy self when he saw her, and outwardly she noted only mild dehydration. That was not enough to cause his symptoms, so he underwent x-rays of his abdomen. The pictures showed an abnormality and abnormal gas pattern in Henry’s stomach.

The next step was to do a barium study to see if there was an obstruction in the gastrointestinal track. “Barium is a radiographic contrast medium,” explained Pietsch. “When it is ingested, it coats the esophagus, stomach and intestines. Then doctors can view x-rays over a few hours to see how the barium tracks.”

Henry did not care much for the taste of the barium, she said, but maybe he guessed he would eventually be compensated for his discomfort with some extra snuggles and treats. “The process was slow,” said Pietsch. “After nearly three hours, the barium had still not reached Henry’s colon, which was unusual for a dog his age. However, what showed in the stomach was a formation that resembled a ball.”

At that point, Pietsch and the owners decided the next step was exploratory surgery. Using a small incision, Pietsch and Dr. Michelle McDonough opened the abdominal cavity. It proved to be quite the treasure chest.

“Henry had a piece of blanket in his colon, some plant materials in his intestines and a large piece of blanket fabric in his stomach,” said Pietsch. “There was also a thread from the blanket that had traveled into the small intestine and bunched up the intestines, because the rest of the blanket was unable to move through.”

As long as the surgeons were working in Henry’s abdomen, they took one more step as a preventive step for future troubles. They did a surgical procedure that tacks the stomach to the body wall. “That lowered the possibility that Henry might experience a twisted stomach in the future,” said Pietsch. “That’s something that can happen when the stomach becomes overstretched, and then excessive gas can cause it to rotate.” There are about a dozen dog breeds that are at higher risk of bloating like that, and the Labrador retriever is one of them.

After his ordeal, Henry spent the night in a local emergency hospital. He went home the next day and made a speedy recovery. Henry’s family found the blanket with the missing pieces. They also found the missing socks, although no one was able to determine whether they were part of Henry’s stash of loot or simply mislaid footwear.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 414-421-1800 or visit greendalevillagevet.com