For Klause — a 2-year-old red dachshund with an infectious personality—the road to recovery seemed out of sight after a mauling by an unknown animal left him almost unrecognizable.
But thanks to the work of a team of doctors at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH), Klause has returned home and is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing a rare pleurodesis procedure.
Klause’s owner Cheryl Chadwick had let Klause and his sibling Chloe out one last time before bed at around 10:30 p.m., when she heard a loud noise and raced outside to find the two. Seeing the extent of Klause’s injuries, Chadwick called Aggie veterinarian Dr. Kurt Kainer, who practices in Weimar, who told her she had two choices—leave Klause with him overnight, or bring him to Texas A&M.
When Klause arrived at the Small Animal Hospital (SAH), emergency room doctors found puncture wounds in his abdomen and a hole in his lung. Part of his liver also had been torn and was displaced in his abdomen.
Dr. Laurie Torkildsen, a third-year critical care resident at the SAH, said that Klause ranks in the top-5 most severe trauma cases of her career thus far.
Although the hospital deals with mauling incidents quite frequently, Torkildsen explained that the penetrating wounds to both Klause’s chest and abdominal cavity, as well as the damage to his lung, made this a rare and more severe case.
“Anytime we have any penetrating wounds into a body cavity, we flush it out so an infection doesn’t brew. Then we went into his chest. He was very critical under anesthesia and we almost lost him a few times,” Torkildsen said. “We were able to partially tie off his lung to try and stop the leaking, but he was not doing well enough for us to completely stop it.”
To complete the surgery, Torildsen performed a rare procedure called a pleurodesis, which requires taking blood and putting in into the chest cavity.
“The hope is that all of the things that make your blood clot will cause the hole to plug,” she said. “I actually used my own personal dog, took his blood and gave it to Klause. After the second procedure, it worked, and we were able to stop the leaking lung.”
Even after receiving a guarded prognosis and waiting through several difficult procedures, Chadwick said she never lost faith that her sweet Klause would return home.
“When they were going to start operating, they said there was a 50-50 chance of survival. Then they called me later on and said he wasn’t doing very well with the surgery, and I told them, ‘Just do what you’re going to do. He is in God’s hands and he is in your hands,’” Chadwick said. “I was not panicked about it. I just felt like he was going to be OK.”
That Chadwick was so calm about the ordeal may have been surprising, considering her bond with Klause. After not owning a pet since high school, the love and attachment Chadwick felt when she received Klause as a puppy certainly was a welcomed surprise for her.
“We named him Prince Klause, and then we added ‘von’ to his last name to make is sound more German, because of the dachshund’s German roots. His whole name is Prince Klause von Chadwick. It’s bigger than he is,” Chadwick joked.
“He instantly became mine. He lives in the house and he sleeps with me. None of my friends can believe it. They say, ‘Cheryl, what happened to you?’ she continued. “He has just really been life-changing.”
Chadwick also called upon her friends, family, and the total strangers who are part of an online dachshund community to pray for Klause’s recovery; not only did those strangers contact Chadwick and her daughter for daily updates, but they also contributed to his medical expenses.
Klause’s survival was just as important to Torkildsen and rest of the VMTH team.
Cassie Burghardt, a fourth-year veterinary student who cared for Klause tirelessly during his six-day stay, said Klause’s recovery was meaningful and rewarding in more ways than one.
“This would have been rewarding no matter what, but because this was my first surgery and really my first big case, to have him do so well and survive has been such a good experience for me,” Burghardt said. “Klause was the perfect patient. He’s the best guy, and he is so sweet, and his recovery has been amazing. I think we’ve all been saying that since the beginning.”
Chadwick, who was filled with emotion and gratitude for the VMTH when she arrived to pick up Klause, could not wait to take her little prince home.
“I feel that this is the premier veterinary hospital, internationally. It was a blessing for me to be able to get in my car, dead of the night, and bring him here,” she said. “I believe they were instrumental in saving his life.
“I almost wouldn’t change this experience. Had it not happened that night, it could have happened another night and rescue might not have been possible. Even though you could say, ‘Was there something I could have done differently?’ I think that no matter how bad, things always seem to go the way they’re supposed to,” Chadwick said.
“I thought he would be here another week. I thought I might not have the level of expertise needed to care for him in this condition, but the fact that they feel he is ready to go home makes me ecstatic. I am so excited.”
Contact Information: Megan Palsa, Executive Director of Communications, Media & Public Relations, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science; firstname.lastname@example.org; 979-862-4216; 979-421-3121 (cell)