Potatoes, poison and purging our puppyBudgeteer columnist S.E. Livingston writes about her birthday, when she came home to find one or both dogs had feasted ... possibly on mouse poison.
By: S.E. Livingston, Duluth Budgeteer News
Last month I hit a new level of intimacy with my dogs. Although I never want to go there again, I do now know what I am capable of.
We have two dogs, a four-year-old yellow Labrador named Gus and an almost-one-year-old Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler mix named Benny. I could classify them as mellow dog/spaz dog; my dog/Will’s dog; friendly dog/spooky dog; good dog/bad dog. Right now I would prefer “no dog.”
Benny’s exploits are maddening, but the night of my birthday turned out to be the worst yet. We came home late to find the pantry door jimmied open and the living room floor ankle deep in shredded paper plates, plastic bags and potatoes.
I waded through the stream and was beginning to pick up when I found a licked-out container of mouse poison. The enormity of the night’s destruction jettisoned. The issue was no longer the five pounds of minced potato on my oriental rug; somebody had eaten an entire container of mouse poison!
Five years ago when we didn’t have dogs, we found a mouse in our basement. We put some mouse poison in some hidden areas, including the floor of the kitchen pantry, and then protected the poison so our children couldn’t get to it. I had completely forgotten its existence. Leave it to a puppy to expose my weak housekeeping morals.
I called the Animal Emergency Hospital and talked with a helpful woman about the type of poison and the procedures. She told me that the mouse poison probably wasn’t digested yet, and we HAD to get that dog vomiting as soon as possible. If we didn’t get rid of the poison or if we didn’t get any medical intervention, the dog would die of internal bleeding within two days.
I stood holding the ripped-up poison container and looked at Benny. He looked fine. He was dancing around with that goofy grin on his face. So happy! I thought to myself, this is poison for a half-pound mouse, how much could it hurt a 60-pound dog? (I try to avoid trouble through denial.)
But Benny is our 10-year-old son’s dog. How could I let my son watch his dog die of internal bleeding? How could I feign ignorance? How could I do nothing when the potential for my son’s heartbreak was teetering in front of me?
While I talked on the phone, I looked down at Gus, our yellow Labrador. His head rested on my knee. Come to think of it, I wasn’t even sure that Benny ate the poison. Gus is the alpha dog in the house; maybe he saw Benny eating the yummy green poison and took it away from the juvenile.
“Make them BOTH vomit,” the emergency veterinarian said in no uncertain terms.
So Ernie and I gathered the two dogs and began pouring three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide into medicine syringes.
“Benny, you’re first,” I told him as I hugged him and began to pour it down his throat. He thought this might be good. He was wrong.
As I was working on Benny, Gus stood next to me. He sniffed the hydrogen peroxide bottle. He looked at Benny and tilted his head and looked at me. Was this a treat?
“Sorry, Gus, you are guilty by association. You’re next,” I told the gentle fellow.
Within 10 minutes, Gus threw up everything in his stomach. NOW I had to analyze the vomit to find any poison. I have five children. This wasn’t new territory for me but definitely new procedures.
The good news was: Gus had nothing in his stomach but dog food. The bad news was: We put him through the purge cycle for nothing. Great time for a lesson to my kids about being careful who you hang with. You might find yourself being force-fed hydrogen peroxide.
Unfortunately, the treatment didn’t work for Benny the first time. We had to repeat it and he wasn’t nearly as compliant the second time. Eventually he emptied his stomach. The wonderful thing was that the bright green poison pellets were gently cushioned on a large pile of hot cocoa mix! It was then I remembered that Benny had chewed his way through the boys’ camping gear that afternoon and eaten a full freezer-storage bag of chocolate. If the poison hadn’t killed him, the chocolate might have!
In the pleasantness of that early evening of my 41st birthday, I would have never thought myself capable of what was to come.
But, thanks to the help of the great people at the Emergency Animal Hospital in Duluth and the threat of certain heartbreak of my son, I hit a new understanding of the power of purging.
Monthly Budgeteer columnist S.E. Livingston is a wife, mother and teacher who writes for family and education newsletters in northern Minnesota (and lives in Duluth). E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.