Douthett, a musician, had been carrying a foot infection for a while, and had been keeping it a secret. He explained:
It smelled, and I look back now and realize every time we’d visit someone with a dog, their dog would be sniffing all over my foot.
The infection had started out as a a small “sliver” on the bottom of his toe. Douthett used a knife to cut the skin away but it got worse. Eventually, he had to lose the shoes in favor of some loose-fitting sandals. It didn’t take long for his wife Rosee, who is a registered nurse, to realize that something was seriously wrong. According to Jerry, she first noticed several weeks ago:
One day I was lying down working on a car and Rosee saw my foot, and she looked as though she’d seen a ghost.
She insisted that he go to the hospital – and “two Fridays” ago, he conceded that he needed medical attention, but he hadn’t been yet – which brings us to how Jerry lost his toe.
Jerry was mentally preparing himself for the impending ordeal when he drank five beers and a couple of giant “golden” margaritas in the afternoon. Rosee drove him home and he passed out on the bed. Rosee let him sleep.
In her own words:
Jerry had had all these margaritas, so I just let him sleep. But then I heard these screams coming from the bedroom, and he was yelling, ‘My toe’s gone, my toe’s gone!’
Jerry had woken up with his dog lying next to him, a pool of blood by his foot and an empty space where his big toe had been.
Jerry told of his rude awakening:
The toe was gone. He ate it. I mean, he must have eaten it, because we couldn’t find it anywhere else in the house. I look down, there’s blood all over, and my toe is gone.
Given that, little Kiko had gnawed his toe down to the nail line, Jerry could no longer put off his trip to the doctor. Tests revealed that the infection responsible for his previous distress had gone to the bone, so doctors removed what was left of his mangled toe.
Dr Russell Lampen, an infectious specialist for Spectrum Health expressed his surprise:
We see all sorts of problems, and I’m rarely surprised by anything, but I’m tucking this one away as an extreme oddity.
Further testing revealed that Douthett had Type 2 diabetes, not surprising considering that his brother had died several years before as a result of complications of diabetes, and that he had a dangerously high blood sugar level of 560 (normal is 80 to 120).
Dr Lampen explained that Jerry had likely remained asleep through the gnawing session because of nerve damage caused by diabetes:
A normal person, even consuming that much alcohol, probably would have awakened much earlier.
Following the ordeal, Jerry had thought that Kiko would need to be euthanized, but he changed his mind after someone pointed out that the dog had in fact saved his life.
“If it hadn’t been for that dog,” Jerry said, “I could have ended up dead.”