Canine companions and pre-Christmas hijinks

Laurie Snider
Notes from the Nest

The first hint of trouble I noticed, after placing my warm toes onto our cold, bedroom floor, were the flakey crumbs I noted that Farley, our older shepherd, was licking off the hardwood. The misty, morning fog of sleepiness, still rattling around my brain, prevented me from registering their significance.

Reality, startled me into a rather abrupt sense of alertness, when I spied the empty basket and crumpled up, tea towel, lying on the kitchen floor. The previous evening, I had baked a batch of Bran muffins, three of which we consumed. The remaining nine, were now missing in action. “Barnabas!!”

I knew immediately Barnabas, our 3-year-old shepherd, was the culprit. The main focuses in Barnabas’s life are walks with his blue, rubber ball, his exaggerated fear of being left behind, a need, along with his compatriot Farley, to howl at the sirens of our local emergency services, and, his stomach.   This is particularly so, if he feels that there is an empty space in it requiring filling, which occurs quite regularly.

Barney isn’t especially picky either, his own food, cat food or any unattended people food, that he feels may or may not have been left abandoned, are all acceptable choices. Then of course, there are a few unmentionables and even the odd obscure items. For instance, all Kleenex boxes in our home have been placed onto high shelves. When a sudden fit of ravenousness hits, he has been known to pluck the unassuming paper products, from their box and scarf them down, like potato chips.

Although my initial thoughts were of the well-known cathartic properties of bran and what the conceivable consequences of a nine-muffin binge were likely to be, they quickly turned to alarm, when I recalled they contained raisins. Raisins are toxic to dogs. Ingestion, can lead to kidney failure and even death. I called the vet immediately!

Once arriving at the veterinarian’s office, Barnabas like many dogs sensing some form of impending unpleasantness, kept lunging for the exit. A quick game of ball, in the lobby, with Catherine the vet, Lori and the vet techs Val and Kim, soon put his mind at ease. An emetic was administered, into a vein in his leg, to induce vomiting as the first step in his treatment. It worked quickly! I spent the next 15 minutes, wandering around the parking lot with an emesis basin, capturing the contents, as he cast out the offending matter. Success! Raisins and lots of them!

Part 2 of his care, involved charcoal. A viscous, gooey, black liquid used to neutralize any remaining, rascal raisins, that somehow may have evaded Step 1. Barney, quite enjoyed this part. My friend, vet tech Kim, rather ironically asked, if he was a good eater.  “Well, he ate nine bran muffins for breakfast. So, I guess I’d say yes.” I cheerily replied. He happily lapped up three bowls of food, mixed with the accompanying charcoal sauce with little encouragement.

The morning’s episode is not my first, go-round with a voraciously, gluttonous, canine companion. A beloved, former dog, Norman, also ended up in hot water, after an untoward case of the munchies. Norman, was a black and white spotty dog. A gentle giant, the approximate size of a cow. He was also quite fond of all things food, once nabbing a resting, pot-roast off the counter, when I turned my back.

Several years back, the week before Christmas, we were all out for the evening. Norman, had been entrusted with guarding our home and festively decorated Christmas tree.  We returned very late, with the premature assumption that all was well.  That is, until I spotted several glittery sequins, spread across the floor.

In our absence, Norman had devoured, what he thought was a rather thoughtfully placed, Christmas ornament hanging on the tree. As a holiday craft, our daughter Ellie’s class, had made delightful tree adornments, using Styrofoam balls covered in colourful, miniature marshmallows. Each one, was secured in place, with a sequin and a straight pin. Norman ate it, in entirety, pins and all!

In this case, the treatment involved before and after X-rays, which rather spectacularly showed off the 50 shiny, sharp objects. An abundance of Vaseline sandwiches, was pro-offered to help the abhorrent foreign bodies to pass. Norman, thoroughly enjoyed the delectable, petroleum snacks and dutifully expelled every single item! This was a close call, as the alternative would have been an expensive surgery, during an already costly season.

Thankfully, I just heard back from the vet and Barney’s tests are all clear. Whew! It looks like we dodged another bullet just before Christmas, although Randy’s not so sure. “Those turned into $200 muffins!” he exclaimed. Perhaps I’ll wait a week or two to begin my Christmas baking, lest Barnabas gets a craving for shortbread!

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