A Dog Is For Life – No Time Off For Good Behaviour

Christmas and dogs go together like ‘bull’ and ‘china shop.’ You know a disaster is imminent but when, and what form it will take, is a mystery. All you can do is dog-proof your chewables and hope for the best.

Our first mistake was to accept an invitation to a friend’s house for a Christmas evening buffet. We couldn’t take the dogs as that would have taken Fate Tempting to an entirely new level. Dogs, food and someone else’s house = Category Five pandemonium.

So, we’d have to leave them home alone with three cats. Yes, that’s still a Category One, but if we dog-proofed everything – locked things away in drawers and closed off parts of the house…

And it was only for four hours…

On Christmas night we came back to find two excited dogs bouncing at the door to welcome us home. As they stopped bouncing, we noticed that one of the floor length curtains by the door was in tatters – ripped, torn and full of gaping holes. And the lounge floor was covered in potatoes and large fragments of bubble wrap.

Where did they…? How? One question that never crossed our minds was ‘Why?’ The answer to that was obvious – ‘Because we are dogs and we can.’

The next day we gave both dogs their Christmas present – a ham bone each. We’d decided to delay present giving a day so that we’d be there in case of disaster. The thought of two dogs alone in the house all Christmas evening with a pair of bones – and the undoubted jealousy, bone stealing and just retribution that would ensue – was a thought too far. We wanted to be present to adjudicate.

So, we gave the dogs their bones and great happiness fell upon the kingdom. No fighting occurred and both dogs stretched out and gnawed contentedly for a whole hour. Until Shelagh noticed that Asta, the Pyrenean munching machine with a history of eating large sharp stones that lodged in his intestines, had a much smaller bone than he’d had an hour earlier.

Panic ensued. The bones weren’t supposed to do that. He’d never been able to break up the other bones he’d had. But now an entire knuckle end had disappeared. And, knowing Asta, he’d probably swallowed it whole and he’d have to have another operation.

We’d have to make him sick! There was still time.

Have you ever tried to make a dog sick? Usually it’s the other way round. Shelagh’s first thought was mustard. She was sure James Herriot used it in one of his stories. Luckily Asta is an amenable dog and he quite liked whole grained mustard. But nothing happened. We watched him like a hawk for a minute or two … then Shelagh raced for her veterinary handbooks … and discovered a recommendation for salt water.

We fed him salt water. And waited. He moved to the door. We let him out and raced after him. After all, this was a dog who’d probably eat the bone again the moment he sicked it up. Someone had to beat him to it.

Asta wasn’t sick though. He had diarrhoea instead. Everywhere. In prodigious quantities.

Five minutes later, Shelagh had called the vet and made an appointment. They’d have something to make him throw up. Shelagh and Asta raced off to the vet while someone stayed behind to clear up the garden.

Thirty minutes later, Asta returned wagging his tail. The vet was sure he hadn’t swallowed the bone whole. He would have broken small bits off and eaten those. Panic over.

We weren’t taking any chances though and confiscated both presents and consigned them to the bin.

The next day Shelagh took both dogs around our top field for an early morning run … and returned with a plaintive cry for help. ‘Get a bucket of warm water! Zen’s rolled in something disgusting!’

And he had. The smell was revolting. Apparently he’d found a pile of diarrhoea…


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Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. His novelette, What Ho, Automaton! was a finalist for the 2012 WSFA Small Press Award for short fiction. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf .
An Unsafe Pair of Handsa quirky murder mystery set in rural England charting the descent and rise of a detective on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which will break first? The case, or DCI Shand?
Medium Dead – a fun urban fantasy chronicling the crime fighting adventures of Brenda – a reluctant medium – and Brian – a Vigilante Demon with an impish sense of humour. Think Stephanie Plum with magic and a dash of Carl Hiaasen.
What Ho, Automaton! – Wodehouse Steampunk. Follow the adventures of Reggie Worcester, consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves. It’s set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs. Humour, Mystery, Aunts and Zeppelins!
French Fried the international bestseller – true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell.
International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth?
Resonance “This is one of the most original new science fiction books I have ever read. If it is as big a hit as it deserves, it may well be this book which becomes the standard by which SF stories about … are judged.”

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A Dog Is For Life – No Time Off For Good Behaviour — 5 Comments

  1. Oh yes. I won’t mention the Empyrean heights (Stygian depths?) of disgustingness my dogs have reached, but there are other memories. Like the time the bulldog managed to beg five separate dinners, everyone assuming no one else had remembered to feed the dog. Or the time the same dog (a bulldog, not a greyhound) performed an Olympic leap over the baby’s high chair in order to nail the chocolate birthday cake–complete with two candles–being posed for a picture before it was to be cut and handed out. Instead, cake flew everywhere, child bawling, and we never did find those candles . . .

  2. Next time there is a panic (and there will be) try feeding Asta (or Zen) hydrogen peroxide. A tablespoon or so tossed down the dog’s gullet is a useful emetic in about 75% of cases. When Emily opened 14 plastic zip bags and comsumed the brownies therein, peroxide worked a treat.

  3. What the previous commenter said re: hydrogen peroxide. Oftentimes, a vet visit is still required after the emetic does its job, but it can assist in reducing further problems. This method has been used by every member of my immediate family at one time or another for issues including, but not limited to canine ingestion of: human heart meds, full tube of toothpaste, unspooled cassette tape* (and pieces of tape case), styrofoam packing peanuts, sun-dried frog jerky, other dog’s chemo meds, box of bourbon chocolates in foil wrappers (plus bonus ribbon), Christmas tree tinsel, etc. We’ve found that small pieces of yarn generally pass safely to the other end, but may on occasion require a gentle tug to completely solve the issue to said canine’s satisfaction.

    *The cassette tape required the largest amount of veterinary after-care, as there was some worry about micro-abrasions and cuts to the esophagus. Then again, a blogger I read had to rush his basset to the e-vet for surgery after it ingested his wife’s undies, so.

    A friend of mine also discovered what had happened to her Jack Russells’ toys after they had their stomachs pumped one night, after they had found and ingested a visitor’s not-quite-cigarette. Two stoned Jack Russell terriers only sounds like an amusing concept. Well, considering it took four of us to load them into the cab and get to the e-vet, all while we were in our Halloween costumes, perhaps it was more amusing than it seemed at the time.

    • I understand from our vet that the ingestion of not-quite-cigarettes (or, in our case of a guest’s Medical Cookie infused with not-quite-legal-ingredients) is far more common than one might think–particularly here in San Francisco. When this happened to Emily I spent the night curled up on her bed with her, trying to be her “pack” while she twitched and whimpered. A corner of cookie might have been all right, but she ate the whole damned thing right down to the cellophane wrapper; imagine a 45 pound dog in the throes of a bad acid trip and you more or less have it. Not amusing in the least.