Spring 2019

A Close Call

When a minor injury led to a life-threatening infection for Rocky, the Foster Hospital saved the day.

By Genevieve Rajewski

Previous Next

Jennifer and James Lage don’t know exactly how their young Australian shepherd Rocky hurt himself while exploring the woods, but they were soon going back and forth to their veterinarian—first for an inflamed ear, then because Rocky couldn’t open his mouth. When he woke up one day with one eye bulging from its socket, the veterinarian took one look and referred him to Cummings Veterinary Medical Center immediately.

On the drive to Grafton from Fall River, the Lages were terrified to watch Rocky’s head swell to twice its normal size. “When Rocky came in, he was so blown up he almost didn’t look like a dog,” recalled Stephanie Pumphrey, an ophthalmologist at the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals. An immediate CT scan revealed a retrobulbar abscess, a pocket of infection behind Rocky’s eye believed to have spread upward from a wound in his mouth. Rocky’s infection also had traveled, creating a second pocket around his brain. The radiologists performed an ultrasound-guided biopsy to sample fluid in the abscess, allowing Pumphrey to determine the best course of antibiotics.

After five days in the intensive care unit, then several months of targeted antibiotics and two additional CT scans, Rocky was finally in the clear. Although the infection took vision from one of Rocky’s eyes, that hasn’t slowed down “the big goofball” one bit, Jennifer said. “They saved my dog, and I’m so happy that he still gets to have his whole life ahead of him.”

Top Stories

Swimming with Sharks

An alum helps us better understand sharks through photography and research.

Looking through the Eyes of Animals

Temple Grandin on the importance of first impressions, why “draconian leash laws” are a problem for dogs, and more.

Are Essential Oils Dangerous to Pets?

Yes, they can be, so follow these tips to keep your animals safe.

Editor's Picks

Meet Our New Dean

A visionary leader in veterinary medicine takes the helm of New England’s only veterinary school.

A Chicken and Egg Problem

Urban dwellers looking to raise backyard chickens must take precautions to prevent lead exposure.

Mastering the Art of Communication

Before heading into clinics and hospitals, veterinary students practice having difficult conversations with clients.