Monday, November 26, 2007

A Thanksgiving Tale

My wife and I have many times wondered aloud whether the dumber of our two dogs, Stella, if given the opportunity, would eat herself to death if presented with a virtually unlimited pile of food. Is Stella, who purports to be of dog-kind, really more goldfish or shark?

Last night brought us the answer.

I cooked two meals this Thanksgiving, which I thought would be awful. While it required more kitchen time than one would normally want, the positives much outweighed the negatives as it offered two opportunities for wanton gluttony. Ridiculous, really, but no less fun. A lot of people think Thanksgiving is a dead or useless holiday, and while it's true that very few have any idea what it's about beyond the national tradition of gorging oneself, it is definitely not dead in this house. I personally give Thanksgiving more weight than Christmas, as I value a good meal above being given a bunch of crap I never needed to begin with.

I'm relating this because during the course of both Thanksgiving meals, our food-obsessed canine was being driven nuts. You could see it in her eyes since, for the last couple of years, the dogs get Thanksgiving scraps. This year we decided to put the kibbosh on that practice, as the flatulence created by said scraps is frankly intolerable. And of course, the dogs, who can't remember anything beyond the basic command of "sit" and the word "biscuit" (the schnauzer intellect being the polar opposite of "prodigious") sat there and looked like we were carving their hearts out along with the bird because, after all, don't they usually get some?

Which brings us to the minor emergency of last night, or as it might also be called, 'Stella gets into the holiday spirit in spite of the egregious Scrap Denial.'

After a day of feasting on our vast trove of leftovers and wandering in and out of a mellow tryptophan haze, we made preparations to retire, which means it's time to let the dogs out one last time. Normally they get a few minutes and a quick cry of "Who wants a biscuit?" brings them in (that, and the 15 degree temp). Last night though, nothing. And remember, this is the dog for whom no danger is too great in pursuit of something edible, up to and including piles of shit.

I waited, called, went back inside, made sure all the doors were shut tight, went back out and called, went back inside (remember, it's fucking 15 degrees) and started to worry a bit, put on something a bit warmer and went out to smoke and do some real waiting. True to form, and as any smoker will tell you, if you are sick of waiting for something (say, a ride) just light up a smoke and whatever you are waiting on will suddenly appear (unfortunately, this does not work with things like the lottery or a truckload of fine steaks. I'm theorizing that this is likely because these things are never actually expected to arrive, which begs the question, do I simply need to twist my brain around to the point where I really DO expect these things to show up? Shhhh, it's The Secret.). True to this, as soon as I lit my smoke, here comes Stella at a leisurely pace. I assumed she must have been too far away to hear "Biscuit", which normally prompts a full-bore sprint.

Once we got inside where the light was better, she just stood there staring at me with her tail tucked. This had me running through the list of things that she might have just done that she knew she shouldn't be eating massive piles of dung. She was licking her chops a lot. A shaking of the revulsion of the thought when it also occurred to me that she does the tail tuck thing when she feels bad, which has only been twice in four years. Well, make that three times.

As I stared down at her, I swear I could see her getting fatter right before my eyes. She was transforming into a salt and pepper version of her cousin Lily, a schnauzer of equal height and length, but triple the girth. Truly, Lily is astonishing to the unprepared, as the space she occupies is neither "toy" nor "miniature".

I reached down to feel her belly and truly my eyes weren't deceiving me. She was swelling up. It was like a massive hemorrhage as her whimpers and shaking rapidly began increasing. There are no emergency vets in these parts, and after confirming the fact with the Mrs. who was now downstairs helping to attend, the both of us sat wondering if we were just going to have to sit around and watch the dog die. Seriously, what in god's name could she have possible eaten to cause this.

Enter the Googles. (who now officially tops this years list of Things for which I am Thankful) Time to search for things that will induce vomiting in a dog. The first few sites stated the obvious in suggesting Ipecac, which we don't have. However, a bit more trawling the webs brought another alternative, so if you live with painfully stupid and hopelessly food-obsessed animals take note. Two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide will do the trick.

Stella was fine within ten minutes. What she left on the floor, however, was not fine. Not fine at all.

Somewhere out there, she evidently got a hold of a goodly portion of a Thanksgiving meal that someone threw out. Even after some thorough investigating today, we still haven't located the source to determine if she got into someone's trash or if someone had simply thrown it outside for the animals and she just happened to be the first on the scene. On our floor lay close to five pounds of potatoes, carrots, turkey and various other food items. That's quite literally one-third of her body weight, and I marveled at the scope of her single-minded gluttony. While we were relieved that the dog was not going to be dying in front of us, the waves of revulsion returned as the stomach contents revealed that for an appetizer Stella had also consumed a giant pile of shit.

Nice. So much for that odor-free holiday we were going for by not giving the dogs any leftovers. And of course, the answer to our question is a resounding "Yes".

Amazing and horrifying, for you on this post-Thankgiving.