On Thanksgiving Day, I was already counting my blessings in the form of my beloved pack of dogs. Each one of them makes every day Thanksgiving, but yesterday was thetime to really stop and appreciate all that they do for me.
I was feeling especially grateful that Tiki is still in full remission from cancer, and Sheba is still enjoying frisky walks despite her painful arthritis (I gave extra thanks for the joint-supportsupplements Pet Cod Liver Oil and FlexPet). I also gave thanks for the meat that is starting to stick to the bones of my sweet, scrawny foster dog Magnus – thanks toheaping portionsof Wellness canned and dry food, his hips jut out way less than they did when I first welcomed him home.
Then, at the end of the evening, another dog did something to make me feel really thankful.
All day, in between giving thanks, I’d been somewhatstressed because,on Wednesdaynight, my handsome brindle pit bull Dan began applying his teeth to one of the fancy dog beds I provide for my pack. To deter him from this supremely annoyingactivity – which he doubtless picked up fromhis packmate, theincorrigible pillow-destroyer Lazarus – I said a firm “No,” then handed Dan a sanctioned chewable: a rubber toy.
Except the toy Ihanded him is a soft, super-flexible“Bumi” (short for boomerang). This brilliant, S-shapeditem ismeant for tossing and retrieving – it’s my dogs’ favorite thing to fetch – but it’s definitely not rated for focused gnawing, and certainly not by a dog with the jaw power of a pit.
Why did I behave so idiotically in giving Dan the Bumi? It’s no excuse, but what can I say, I was distracted. There you have it. And wouldn’t you know, while my back was turned, Daniel D. Dog bit off a substantial portion of the toy as if snacking on a Twizzler. We’re talking a three-inch-long portion of bright blue rubber that went MIA, nowhere to be found. Which means it went downmy dog’sgullet.
I’ve been through similar scenarios before, and usually the pieces turn up in a day or two, expelled from the front or rear end of the dog. But this time, I was very concerned that Dan had swallowed the entire three-inch segment whole, without so much as splitting it into smaller pieces. And such a large piece of rubber would most certainly create an intestinal blockage necessitating emergency medical attention.
I debated a trip to the 24-hour animal hospital, but my experience in August – when my foster dog Redmond was suspected of having ingested Gorilla Glue – gave me pause. Redmond hadturned outOK; hopefully Dan would too. I figured I’d watch Dan’s front and rear ends like a hawk, and if nothing got hurled or pooped out, then I’d rush him to the emergency room.
On Thanksgiving morning, Dan produced a normal bowel movement: A very good sign of intestinal well-being. The rest of the day was uneventful; he was no more or less active than usual, enjoying his walks outdoors and goofing around with the other dogs inside. He didn’t appear to be in any discomfort. But then, pit bulls are notoriously stoic. Uh-oh.
As I beganour late-evening dog-walking ritual, I spotted something on the blanket in the bedroom: Three pieces of bright-blue rubber, each about an inch long, surrounded bytwo brown mounds of upchucked dog food. I’ve never been so thrilled to find vomit on my bed!After swiftly scooping everything up (so the other dogs wouldn’tfind the scent of regurgitated food attractive enough to re-swallow the blue bits), I thanked Dan for saving us both a costly trip to the emergency room. Another crisis averted! After that,I laundered the blanket, first pre-treating the spots with Get Serious, to remove the stink.
True to the function for which is was designed, the Bumi got tossed, then retrieved. Except my dog and I reversed roles:Dan did the tossing and I played fetch. It’s not even Christmas yet, but I’ve alreadystartedimplementing my first New Year’s Resolution of 2011:Carefully separate fetch toys from chew toys from this day forward. Oh, and be thankful for the grace of Dog every day of the year.