Monday, January 21, 2008

One For You...a Whole Bag For Me!

Lesson Number Thirteen: You Are What You Eat

Bijoux, like most beagles I’ve ever met or even read about in books, was a connoisseur of people food. She’d do anything to get it. Of course I knew, from my experience with dogs and from reviewing the rules by reading Superpuppy, that giving people food to our dog was a big no-no, but every now and then we felt extra benevolent. Unfortunately, once a dog gets her mouth around a couple of items from the people’s food category, it’s hard to discontinue the practice of treating her. That’s why she was great at suckering me into sharing my toast, popcorn, rice, Popsicles, cheese, and all of those other favorites of hers.

Then there’s the fact that when it comes to people food, dogs generally don’t have the desire, discipline, or self-control to back off when temptation smacks them right in the face. That’s why Bijoux temporarily turned herself into the equivalent of a doublewide trailer by eating that entire loaf of wheat bread at one standing. Unfortunately, that day was no big deal compared to one particular day in 2001, in the middle of October.

Upon returning home from work, Bijoux greeted me in her normal way as I walked into the house. I took a couple minutes to pet her and talk to her, and then I put my purse down in the family room. I walked up the seven steps to the kitchen so I could check the answering machine, and noticed a plastic bag on the floor. Not thinking much about it at that moment, I picked it up before I realized what it was. I was shocked to discover that Bijoux had downed an entire 12-ounce bag of Hershey Miniature candy bars that were intended for Halloween use. They were 100% chocolate, with some crunch or some nuts thrown in. I was slightly surprised that there was not a wrapper in sight; I didn’t expect that Bijoux would have been able to actually unwrap her treasure, but I also didn’t expect that there would be no paper trail left anywhere either.

Knowing that chocolate can be toxic to dogs if ingested in large amounts, I tried to keep calm as I called the Animal Hospital. I told the receptionist that she was acting completely normal for the time being, but was worried. She put me on hold in order to ask one of the doctors about my best plan of action. When she returned to the phone, she gave me two options. She said that Bijoux needed to get as much of the chocolate out of her system as possible, and I could either write down what I needed to do to induce vomiting at home, or I could bring her in. I wisely chose the latter.

The doctor who saw us that day asked me how much chocolate she ate, and I told him about the bag. He said that I did the right thing by bringing her in, although a dog of her size would had to have ingested much more chocolate to die from it…so I felt reassured. I left Bijoux with the great people at the animal hospital overnight and brought her home 24 hours later, good as new. It was a loud-and-clear wake-up call, and we all tried to be more careful with putting food away in the cabinets after that.