Vet Tails Excerpt – Mr Bear’s Fishhook Encounter

One of the many things I love about being a vet is that you never know what will unfold on any given day and one learns to expect the unexpected. Another delightful aspect of vet work is that there is usually some colourful character – the animal or owner or both – to work with.


One night I received an after-hours emergency call from Mr Bear’s owners. The gorgeous one-year-old chocolate lab had been investigating the content of the fishing tackle box and the next thing his owners saw was that he had a fish hook stuck in his lip. He had been pawing at it in an attempt to dislodge it and was quite uncomfortable. Mr Bear lived on my way home and so I paid him a visit.


I arrived to be greeted by a tail wagging Mr Bear who clearly hadn’t discussed the pros and cons of body piercings with his owners! I had known Mr Bear since he was born and the slightly sheepish look he had on his face was different from the innocent puppy expression that he had donned when I had seen him last. The two lovely young chaps looking after him held him as still as they could while I examined the extent of the hook’s invasion but Mr Bear was not happy about being held still – he would have preferred to have been playing! It was clear that Mr Bear would need to be sedated in order for me to remove the hook safely. I injected Mr Bear with a wonderful sedative and within a few minutes he was snoozing peacefully on the lounge carpet.


The hook was caught inside his lip with the barb fully imbedded. To remove it, I needed to push it completely through his lip and once it was through we cut off the barbed end of the hook with some wire cutters and then finally slipped the rest of the hook out from the site of entry. Fish hooks can sometimes be very dirty and cause infection at the site of penetration so I carefully disinfected the area and gave Mr Bear a dose of anti-biotics, stopped the bleeding and then we were done. The beauty of the sedative I love to use is that it’s fully reversible so I gave Mr Bear the antidote to wake him up and advised the guys, who were lying at Mr Bear’s side throughout the procedure, that it should take five to ten minutes for him to come around.


Ten minutes later we were all still at Mr Bear’s side patting him and talking to him, awaiting his return to consciousness. The guys were a little worried about the delay and I assured them that some animals can take longer and all of his vital signs were stable so we had nothing to be concerned about. Another ten minutes went by and Mr Bear was still snoozing away apparently enjoying his drug-induced restful slumber, the guys beginning to grow impatient as they still had a lot to do before the night was over.


I lifted Mr Bear’s head to hopefully give him some stimulus to respond to and the next moment he stood up excitedly wagging his tail and looking at us as if to say “What happened? What did I miss?” to which he received the reply from his loving owner, “Bear, you just milked that for everything that you could, didn’t you!”


To read more about my adventures, read Vet Tails available as a book or e-book from