Early Sunday morning I heard the tell-tale heaving of a puppy’s stomach. I jumped to move Betty to the hardwood floor and there she presented me with the contents of her stomach for Mother’s Day. Then she did it a couple more times, but by the time breakfast rolled around she was fine and I didn’t think anything more about it (except for the paper towel I used to clean it up which I obviously put in her baby book.)
When we got home from work Monday night, Betty started giving me more belated Mother’s Day gifts. She threw up so many times that we called the vet who suggest we feed her small portions of canned food in half hour intervals. We didn’t even make it to the second course. Poor kid couldn’t even keep the good stuff down, so we took her to the emergency room fearing dehydration.
At this point I suspected bulimia. I hadn’t actually seen her binge, but she had just spent the previous week at the dog hotel where she had her first exposure to other female dogs. I just assumed that the pressure from the other bitches coupled with all the messages in the media for girl dogs to remain slender had gotten to her. I envisioned years of therapy which would undoubtedly reveal that our parenting was the real issue.
As it turned out it was sticks. Betty really likes sticks. The first thing she does when she goes out in the morning is grab a good stick and begin to chew. She very much enjoys any chase that ensues as we attempt to retrieve the stick (as a retriever mix, I believe she has this game backwards). This is a very satisfying game for her. She also enjoys grass, leaves, helicopter seeds, gum wrappers and poop, both rabbit and dog. She does not have a very discerning palate. The sticks where the real problem though. She had consumed enough roughage that the emergency vet feared a blockage which could have resulted in surgery. Fortunately twenty four hours, two x-rays and an IV later the offending sticks had found their way out of her body without a scalpel. Betty was returned to us safe and sound.
Betty is now on a strict no-stick diet. Not that we were ever actually feeding her sticks to begin with. That would make the implementation of the new diet much easier. In reality enforcing the diet involves removing all visible sticks from the yard and chasing her around trying to pry sticks and other unidentified flotsam out of her mouth. It is challenging but the $1100 veterinary bill is extremely motivating.
While I definitely appreciate the home-made-ness of Betty’s first Mother’s Day gifts, I think next year I would really prefer a card.