Hanapa‘a One Fish Hook

One of my favorite pastimes is diving for octopus, or in local terms, tako. On my dives, I see firsthand all the debris from fellow fishermen. The harm done is not always clearly evident, but believe me, it’s there. At other times, the hazards of careless individuals are very obvious, as injured animals show up at our veterinary hospital.

This is a story about Sandy, a happy-go-lucky golden retriever puppy who just could-n’t help himself.

Mrs. Scot rushed into our hospital one day after going for an early morning walk on the beach. She had in tow her very cute 5-month-old furry family member. A normally very cheerful pup, Sandy had a forlorn look on his face that spoke volumes.

“We went walking early this morning while it was still dark. Sandy was off leash running ahead of me but suddenly stopped and seemed very interested in something. By the time I caught up to him, it was gone. Doc, I think Sandy ate something he shouldn’t have. Ever since then, he’s been subdued and occasionally paws at his face.”

As if on cue, Sandy looked down and with alternating paws, rubbed his face in frustration.

There was nothing obvious on the outside, but when I looked in his mouth I saw a bundle of fishing line tangled in his mouth. After getting permission from Mrs. Scot, I sedated Sandy so that I could examine him better.

The fishing line extended into his throat, and after a gentle tug, I realized that it wasn’t coming out. A few minutes later an X-ray revealed the whole picture.

“Mrs. Scot, Sandy has a large fish hook lodged in his throat. I can’t grab the hook because it is too far down. I’m going to attempt to remove it, but if I’m not successful, he’s going to need surgery.”

Nodding in agreement, Mrs. Scot understood the gravity of the situation. Tearing the tissue in Sandy’s throat could have serious consequences.

I threaded the fishing line into a long tube and slowly advanced the tube into Sandy’s throat. It passed easily and stopped at about the distance where the hook showed up on the X-ray. Applying gentle pressure, I pushed on the tube in hope of dislodging the hook from Sandy’s throat. In theory, the tube should act as an extension of my hand and remove the hook with ease.

Putting theory into practice, however, was a whole different story. After multiple tries and muttering several urban expressions that I’m not very proud of, the fish hook came free. Hanapa‘a! In fisherman’s terms, this means we successfully got what we were trying for.

Attached to the hook was a very large piece of bait: tako. There’s got to be some kind of irony in this story. I catch tako and a tako caught my patient. Anyway, a fisherman probably left it on the beach after the fishing line got all tangled. To a young, growing puppy, the raw piece of octopus was just too tempting. Sandy swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker.

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