This time we almost lost her.

Penny, our rock-eating Basset Hound, had surgery to remove two rocks last week, one in her stomach and one in her small intestine, and for a few days we didn’t know whether she was going to survive.

She came home Wednesday afternoon and is on medication and a special diet as she heals.

This is not her first go-round with rocks. She had two previous surgeries to remove them.

In fact, we had almost gotten used to this behavior.

She would swallow a rock, not feel right for a day, then pass it, and be back to her old self.

Why doesn’t she learn her lesson? Because she does not get sick immediately after swallowing a rock, so there is no direct correlation in her mind to the rocks and getting sick.

Why does she eat rocks? As near as we can tell, she does it when she’s stressed. It’s called Pica, and as a skittish dog, she stresses easily, and for some reason that results in swallowing rocks.

This time the rock in her small intestine was the biggest problem. Because of the size and shape of the rock, she couldn’t pass it, therefore, couldn’t pass the rock in her stomach.

She had stopped eating. She would drink water and then vomit, and was so weak that I had to carry her into the veterinarian’s office because she wasn’t able to stand anymore.

Despite all that, it never dawned on me that we could lose her until the vet told us how serious it was.

Surgery is always serious, but I just figured, like the other times, the rocks would be removed, and she would be fine.

Now, I can’t help but wonder if there will be a next time, and if so, will that be the rock that does her in.

We have tried muzzling her while she was outside, but Penny and her brother, Ollie, always worked together to get the muzzle off and chew it up.

Ollie, by the way, does not eat rocks. He’ll eat about anything else and it never bothers him, but rocks have never been on his menu.

We are in the process of removing all the rocks from our landscaping in hopes that will help.

But we cannot get rid of every rock outside. When she goes for a walk, she and Ollie oftentimes pick up any type of road kill lying on the streets.

A day or two before she got sick, Penny ate part of a dead snake.

There is no way to remove everything that could cause her harm, but we will do what we can.

That is the scary part, not knowing when or if she will swallow another rock, and if that rock will be the one she can’t recover from.

In our family, pets are like family. They are spoiled, and in return they make our lives so much better.

Now it’s up to us to try and do what we can to protect Penny from herself.