It’s been a quiet afternoon, in that my wife and daughter have been out, but it’s been pouring torrents and thundering. We need the rain, so I actually enjoy “monsoon season,” as the locals call it. I had the bright idea that I should block off the back little garden area so the dogs wouldn’t go back there, it becomes a total mud pit with just a little rain and the dogs track it all over the house. I looked out my bedroom window, and sure enough, Sheba and Loki were just walking around eating grass and/or laying in the bog.
I noticed a shiny wrapper of some sort next to Loki, and since that little courtyard is his secret burial ground for things he finds, I wasn’t worried. I remembered my daughter had left some graham crackers on the coffee table, and it looked pretty much like it fit the bill. You don’t practice fathering for 4+ years without being to identify a cellophane graham cracker wrapper at 30 feet or so. Next to it was a weird, shiny red plastic thing. Not as easy to identify; they’ve got my curiousity.
I put some sandals on and walked out. It was the base for the “dippy bird” I got my daughter after we saw one in an old Loony Tunes cartoon. It was annoying – that meant he’d been in my daughter’s room and finding stuff to just wreck. I picked it up and he already had the “I’m a bad dog” look. I didn’t yell or even look at him as I walked by. Then it occurred to me – where’s the rest of it?
My pace picked up a little as I went through the components of a dippy bird so I could keep an eye out for them. So from the picture in my mind’s eye, I pieced together that the dippy bird consists of:
- gut-entangling plastics
- very thin test tube glass, great for intestine-shredding fun
- a presumably toxic colored liquid
- a twisted metal strip that wraps around the test-tube part of the dippy bird’s body; small enough to swallow and awkwardly shaped enough to lodge somewhere in the tract
- lead. (Well, I don’t actually know where the lead would come from, but I assume there’s some in there somewhere.)
And yes, I gave it to my 3 year old daughter to play with.
I found the rest of the plastic base, and nothing else. I called my wife.
Anette has had just as little dog-eating-dippy-bird experience as I have, so I got off the phone to look around for the rest of the evidence. Little by little I found most of the rest, and at her suggestion I checked his gums and tongue. Not stained with Dippy Bird Blue, and no obvious cuts. So far so good.
Then I found the head of the Dippy Bird. It was not all totally there, but if he ate a little chunk of red plastic, that’s not the most serious challenge his tract has encountered. Next, I found the chewed-off glass tube from the body. That just left the giant-grape sized globe at the bottom of the dippy bird’s body that contained all the delicious liquid toxins. (I ran inside to Google dippy birds. The contents are used as an industrial cleaner and a paint remover. Yikes.) I found most of that.
The “most of it” was, and is, troubling. A wet flagstone patio that’s littered with shiny gravel and little puddles is not an ideal place to find a couple tiny shards of glass, but I went through the house and the outside to find it and have no evidence, so it’s not impossible that the dog ate some shards. Picturing how he sits out when he chews things – his head to one side and the thing he’s chewing on pinned to the ground under a paw – I don’t imagine he ingested much of the blue toxin elixir unless it was really delicious; the place I found the body tube was between 2 flagstones, so dirt would have just soaked it up anyway. It’s rained enough that it would have easily washed away the small amount of color, but I’d still feel better if I could see some evidence of where that liquid went.
So thinking preventatively, I Googled what to do if your dog eats glass. It’s more common than I would have thought, and the most practical remedy is what some vets use for when dogs eat ornamental Christmas Tree bulbs – cotton balls. You put something delicious on them like liverwurst or half and half and let the dog scarf down 3-5 of them. (More for larger dogs.) The cotton balls swirl around the digestive tract and theoretically trap the sharp objects and thus avoid the trickier problems; the testimonial in one link I found revealed a tribe of puppies who had eaten staples, and the cotton ball remedy reclaimed every single staple without incident. (They’d x-rayed them, so they probably had an accurate count.)
So I’m having Anette pick up cotton balls on the way home. We have plenty of delicious cotton ball condiments, that won’t be a problem. Those extra shards may be out there somewhere and it may all be for nothing, but it doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of downside to preemptive treatment in this case. I can’t help but think of the chapter in Catch 22 where Milo feeds Egyptian cotton to the troops he’s mess officer for, and they all get sick. It’s probably different for dogs, though. Right?
Loki seems really smart and sweet and grown up a lot of the time, and he uses the camouflage of an innocent demeanor as his foothold for evil. He’s shredded book, that’s going to have to stop, wrecked some expensive leather seating in our living room – a pain in the ass, but it’s all stuff we went through with Watson lo those many years past. Hell, Watson even ate a Black Flag cockroach trap; you figure when you eat things with skulls and crossbones on them and walk away from it you’re a member of a pretty tough species. But I’m a little worried about the little guy. He’s acting just fine for now, but time will tell.