There are times when our inability to truly talk to our animals, to reason with them, can be truly frustrating.

And, alas, truly dangerous.

Last weekend was one of those times. Having successfully negotiated the power-failure/exploding transformer/brushfire disaster of Friday the 13th, in the sense that we lived through it, I looked forward to Saturday as a day of recovery.

It started well, a nice walk with some neighborhood friends, Taiko enjoying some swimming and running around. Followed by a walk up a nice hill, and, a broken "donor" tennis ball in his mouth, a fun game of keep away with his favorite "puppies" -- three girls from up the street.

That's where it went wrong. Some part of the ball started going down Taiko's throat and, activated by the game, he refused to let me catch him. The small piece going down was connected to the rest of the ball -- about 3/4 of a tennis ball -- which curled up and managed to fit. One way.

Oh crap.

Taiko, of course, was very proud.

Off to the local emergency center for some X-Rays which revealed the now-expanded ball sitting nicely in his stomach. Induced vomiting was unproductive, as (unfortunately) expected. Since they didn't have weekend endoscopy, it was time to head down to New England Animal Medical Center in West Bridgewater, where Zabeth is interning.

She's working the overnight shift right now, so she was gently awoken to the news that her dog was headed to surgery. She took the news well, and the team prepped Taiko for the 'scope.

Taiko's bad day continued, though. Zabeth came out with a small piece, but that as much as they could get: the ball was just too big to get back up without squashing it with teeth, as he had done when he swallowed it.

After two healthy, happy, event-free years (he'd just turned two on May 21st), Taiko was going to have to get cut, and in a significant way. And Zabeth was going to do it: a great learning experience for her, and some upside for the downside.

Stupid Taiko, stupid tennis ball... I wish I had been able to tell him to not swallow the thing, catch him, something.

Hours later, I donned a hat and mask and watched as Zabeth closed Taiko's huge incision. Fortunately, the operation had been entirely successful, and while they were in there they performed a gastropexy to prevent any future bloating.

He woke a bit later in recovery, gorked on the drugs but wagging; I drove home at about 2am and slept a few hours. We took him home on Monday and he's spent the time since then in his stylish Elizabethan collar, under mandated greatly reduced activity, healing.

Of course, he has no idea this was due to the tennis ball, and I have no way of connecting the unpleasantness of his present situation to that moment of carefree, playful stupidity.

Oh, Taiko.