When their dog developed a sudden, nasty cough, Kennady Longhurst and Alex Salsberry were, unsurprisingly, concerned. As a result, they rushed the pooch to their nearest vet for tests, which initially proved inconclusive. And it wasn’t until later that they received an astonishing diagnosis.
Longhurst and Salsberry are a young married couple who come from Utah. What’s more, they share their home and their lives with their beloved dog, Sullivan – whom they’ve affectionately nicknamed “Sully” for short.
Sully is a one-year-old Border Collie mix, and according to Longhurst he’s pretty much the perfect pet. “He is your typical dog – happy, playful, energetic, cuddly, needy and really smart. He loves the dog park, going for hikes, chomping on bones, and people – he LOVES people,” she wrote on Facebook in November 2017.
Furthermore, it’s safe to say that the three of them are absolutely smitten with one another. As such, they do practically everything together. And when they’re not exploring the great outdoors on a hike, the family enjoy nothing more than curling up on the sofa with one another.
However, given that Longhurst and Salsberry both work, they can’t be with Sully all of the time. Yes, during the day the couple have to leave their pooch at home while they head out to earn a living. “We try really hard to not leave him alone for more than three [or] four hours at a time,” Longhurst explained.
And the couple really do try to ensure that their dog isn’t alone for too long. For example, one day in November 2017 Longhurst was doing a shift as a substitute teacher and Salsberry was busy at work too. Consequently, during her lunch break, Longhurst popped back home to check that Sully was doing alright.
When Longhurst got back home, everything seemed to be in order. So, she enjoyed a quick lunch, gave Sully a cuddle and went to head out again. But just as Longhurst was about to leave, her dog started to make a rather concerning noise.
Recalling the worrying experience, Longhurst wrote, “[Sully] started doing this really scary cough/clearing of throat/choking noise. And it really freaked me out.” At this point, the panic-stricken owner had no idea what to do.
Perplexed, Longhurst took to the internet and googled how to do dog CPR. The worried owner then also tried to look down Sully’s throat to see if there was anything choking him. But she still couldn’t seem to find any logical explanation for the dog’s coughing fit.
Perhaps the most puzzling thing, though, was the fact that the little border collie still seemed pretty happy. Yes, although Sully was making such a startling sound, he was otherwise acting in an entirely normal manner. “He was wagging his tail and running around and just wanted to play but also kept making this horrific noise,” Longhurst recalled.
At a loss, Longhurst called Salsberry at work and asked him to come home so that Sully didn’t have to be alone. And as he wanted to make sure their pet was okay, the doting owner agreed to spend his afternoon attending to the dog. As soon as Salsberry arrived home, however, the animal’s cough disappeared.
And when the choking noise didn’t return all afternoon and night-time, Sully’s owners were relieved. “We figured he must have just gotten something stuck in his throat and finally got it out,” Longhurst said. But that was not to be the last that they heard of the mysterious cough.
The very next morning, in fact, when Longhurst and Salsberry were preparing for work, the disconcerting noise returned. Once again, then, the owners were concerned for their dog’s welfare. So, Salsberry decided to work from home so that he could take Sully for a check-up later that day.
At the clinic, a vet suggested that Sully may have caught kennel cough from the dog park. So, to be on the safe side, the dog underwent a series of tests. However, they all came back negative. “[Sully] was the epitome of health,” Longhurst wrote.
Yes, Sully’s ailment had left both his vet and his owners confused. The pooch was given some antibiotics nonetheless, though, just in case he had an infection. But as far as anyone could tell, there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with him.
Keen to get to the bottom of Sully’s cough, however, Longhurst and Salsberry decided to ring around some other local vets to get their opinions. And the diagnoses that the couple received came as a shock. You see, apparently, Sully was faking his ailment for attention.
An astonished Longhurst explained, “Almost all of them said he could be acting sick in the mornings or when we leave him because he knows. If he acts differently or sick we pay more attention to him and stay with him.”
Sully’s owners were shocked that their dog was fake coughing. However, the more that they thought about it, the more it began to make sense. “I’m actually not surprised at all that he could pull this off,” Longhurst wrote. “He has been an insanely smart dog since we got him when he was a puppy.”
Following his brush with the vet, though, Sully’s cough seemed to disappear completely. His owners believe it’s because he doesn’t care for veterinary intervention, and now they just find the whole episode pretty amusing.
Above all, though, the dog’s ingenuity actually left his owners impressed. “I think this has only made us appreciate Sullivan more,” Longhurst wrote. “It reminded us of all those times when we were kids and faked sick so we could stay home, but in this case he wanted us to stay home.”