Friday, July 12, 2013

Helpless creatures

If there are any of you out there who think that I don’t blog about our family pets often enough (considering that my wife is a veterinarian and I do have a “pets” label-category for posts at the ready) then, boy howdy, is this the Friday for you.

Let us begin with a Random AnecdoteTM, shall we? Back when our oldest child was born, people came to visit us and meet the baby and whatnot, and one night a couple of good friends (who would ultimately become the little guy’s godparents) arrived for dinner with, if I recall correctly, the entire meal in hand, or at the very least with desseert (which is the important part anyway). I remember dessert distinctly for two reasons. One, it was a fairly sizable (Costco sizable, in fact) tub of brownie bites, which is one of my personal faves. And two, we did not end up eating any of them. Because we left the tub on the dining room table while my wife and I took our friends upstairs to show them what we had done to turn the spare room into the nursery, and by the time we came back downstairs our dog had eaten the brownie bites. All of them. Every. Last. One.

Back in those days we only had one dog and one or two cats (by which I mean sometimes one and sometimes two and I forget exactly when this fell, not that there was some kind of quantum fluctuation on any given day) so this is our main dog I’m talking about, the one who is now the bigger of the two we have now. So obviously he survives this story. He also survived eating an entire pound of cooked bacon once without keeling over from acute pancreatitis, but as you may know if you know much of anything about dogs, chocolate is severely toxic to them. So we actually ended up calling an animal poison control hotline and they advised us of the following procedure:

- Fill the dog’s bowl with cooked rice or cubed bread
- Douse liberally with hydrogen peroxide
- Make the dog eat as much of that concoction as possible
- Take the dog outside and encourage the dog to run around
- Allow nature to take it’s course (read: profound emetic effects)

I had to run to the store to buy fresh hydrogen peroxide, which gave the rice time to cook, and then I followed the instructions point by point and it worked like a charm. Our main dog loves to play fetch, and in fact rarely does a day go by when he doesn’t at least try to put a ball or other chew toy in someone’s lap, you know, just as a suggestion. He also loves to eat, so feeding him the carbs-n-peroxide platter and then running him about was no trouble, and soon enough he had ejected the brownie matter. All of which made for a memorable evening, some four and a half years ago.

This charming tale of the sweet joys of pet ownership is top of mind because … pause to appreciate the clarity with which you can see this coming … it got a repeat performance just last night. Sort of. A friend of my wife’s dropped off a birthday present during the day, consisting of a batch of brownie-cookies and some wine, all of which was placed very sensibly on our highest kitchen counter where the dogs could not reach it. But of course, when I got home, I wrapped my own present for my wife and put it on the dining room table along with some cards the kids had made, and I relocated my wife’s friend’s gifts there as well. The cookies were in a ziploc baggie and then also wrapped in gift tissue and ribbon, by the by. Anyway, I fed the kids and got them upstairs for bathtime, and when the two older ones were in their pajamas I let them run around and play a bit while I attempted to rock the baby to sleep. So all the humans were upstairs and the animals had the run of the house. Then the little guy came running into my room telling me that he and his sister had just gone downstairs and found our smaller, auxiliary dog eating mommy’s birthday present.

The baby was mostly asleep so I laid him in his bassinet and ran downstairs and sure enough, there was our runty inbred toy dog licking up the last crumbs of the cookies. Now, at this point I didn’t know exactly what kind of cookies they were, in fact I had only assumed that it was cookies inside the opaque wrappings because of the weight and feel of them, but the crumbs were definitely dark brown. Our auxiliary dog is significantly smaller than our main dog, and of course lacks that hybrid vigor of a true mutt that could survive on garbage, so I was somewhat concerned, but I was also home alone with three small children. So we waited it out until my wife got home and I told her what had happened, then we got the bigger kids to bed, and then my wife texted her friend and asked her how much chocolate was in the recipe, and then she entered that info into an online chocolate toxicity calculator, which informed us that based on our auxiliary dog’s weight he had consumed TEN TIMES the toxic dose. An hour and half ago.

Well, I was planning on heading out to pick up our take-out birthday dinner anyway, so I made a second stop at the pharmacy for more hydrogen peroxide. And I was gonna be good and golldurned if I was going to cook rice for the little glutton, so I tore up some bread instead and then went through the whole process. Our auxiliary dog is less of an avid fetcher, but sure enough just the H2O2 on top of his very full stomach was enough to bring back up the bread, the cookies, and the kibble he’d had for dinner an hour or so before that.

(Two chemists walk into a bar on a blazing hot summer day, and the first one says, “I’ll have an H2O,” and he chugs the whole glass. The second one says, “I’ll have an H2O, too” and chugs the whole glass and dies. Strong stuff, is what I’m saying.)

And then the dog suffered a prolonged period of bile-spitting dry-heaving which I’d kind of like to say he deserved, but since he’s intellectually inoperative and thus incapable of making the association with the cookie snarfing in any meaningful learning-one’s-lesson kind of way, maybe not.

This did not, for the record, ruin my wife’s birthday. The loss of the cookies was a bummer, but I had pie and ice cream at the ready for dessert anyway. In fact, my wife complimented me on the efficiency with which I handled the necessary treatment, as it all came back to me. She has deemed me now something of an expert on getting dogs to barf up chocolate desserts before they succumb to fatal theobromine overdose. So that’s something, I guess? Oh and then this morning, our main dog wouldn’t eat his breakfast and then threw up what my wife described to me (via text message, as I was already on my way to work at that point) as “chocolaty kibble” so apparently it was both of them who helped themselves to the cookies, not just the tiny one. Which kind of makes sense because we know, historically, that the main dog can reach stuff we leave on the dining room table but I’m not sure the toy dog can, and that probably should have occurred to me last night. Ah, well. The point is my wife did not have to clean up the bigger dog’s mess on her actual birthday.

So, to sum up: dogs are fairly stupid! And ours in particular think we starve them and will help themselves to any and all foodstuffs left unattended. But, they are good with kids, and the little guy continues to adore the inbred one, so they continue to be allowed to stay under our roof. But if you take anything away from this story, maybe it should be this: if you visit friends who have just had a baby and also have one or more dogs, maybe don’t bring them brownies? And if they have cats, don’t bring them flowers, but that’s a whole other post, really.

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